A brief explanation to the people I’ve been road-running with (that is, in the wake of) recently.
My running style can best be understood if you keep in mind that I am basically a hobbit. I’m about 5’2″ and (this is a nice and fairly accurate way of putting it) solidly built. I like to walk barefoot and can be quiet and light on my feet, but never graceful like an elf. I enjoy and am quite good at hiking long distances, like to the Old Forest on the borders of the Shire. I can carry my dearest (emaciated) friend up the side of Mount Doom, no problem. But if you expect me to be fast, there we encounter a problem, unless you intend to give me a piggyback ride as Boromir did for Merry and Pippin.
Speed is not my skill. Endurance is. I’m well aware that endurance is not glamorous. It is hard to depict in literature or film, and boring to read or watch. For me, though, it’s something to be quietly proud of. I take pride in the fact that during the Virginia Ten-Miler, I keep running steadily up Farm Basket Hill when most of the runners around me, some of them generally faster than I, are slowing down to walk.
Apparently I also have endurance in other areas of my life. My chiropractor says I have a high pain tolerance, which is kind of an ugly cousin to endurance. The first time I had a phone conversation with my dissertation chair, whom I’d never met in person, he said he thought I had grit, another close relative of endurance. I’d like to believe it was the steely note of determination in my voice, but I think he was probably just bluffing. Still, he must have been right, because I finished my dissertation (relatively quickly, I think, considering some of the logistical difficulties I encountered), and anyone who completes a doctoral dissertation must have grit.
I composed this post in my head during a recent run when I was feeling really bad about the fact that the second-slowest runner was so far ahead I couldn’t even see him. I’ve framed it as an explanation to my fellow runners, but I think it’s actually just validation for me. And I’m sharing it on my blog because there may be some other hobbits out there who need to look at their boring endurance trait from a new perspective. Keep trudging, my friends.