Decoding your runner (a guide for those who love us)

by lachicaruns on

I grew up in Puerto Rico, speaking español. While we all learned English growing up, I became truly bilingual in third grade when my parents placed me in an experimental English-immersion program at the military school I attended.

As a poor and hungry newspaper reporter and copy editor, I translated English documents into Spanish.

When my oldest son was diagnosed as hearing impaired when he was 3, I learned rudimentary American Sign Language in case he lost all of his hearing — a real possibility at the time.

What I’m trying to say is that I have some experience translating between languages and the subtleties that entails.

What does this mean for you, dear non-runner? That I’m about to translate your loved one’s runner-speak into something akin to plain English. To whit:

When your runner says: “Boy, these running shoes sure are worn down. Should I spend $120 to replace them?”

S/he really means: “I’m going shopping and you are not to complain about the cost of these shoes, so help me God.”

What s/he wants to hear: “What did the Runner’s World magazine reviewer say about those? Also appropriate: “Do they have them in your size at the local running store?”

When your runner says: “Boy, my calves are really tight and my feet hurt.”

S/he really means: “I told you I need new shoes!” Also possible: “Be a dear and go grab that foam roller for me, please.”

What s/he wants to hear: “I’ll drive you to the local running store right now.” Also appropriate: “Let me grab your foam roller for you.”

When your runner says: “I could really use a donut.”

S/he really means: “I could really use a donut.” Also possible: “I want a donut but I don’t want to feel guilty about eating it.”

What s/he wants to hear: “You just ran (insert number here) miles! Have a donut!” Also appropriate: “I’ll split one with you.”

When your runner says: “I keep running and the scale hasn’t budged. What gives?”

S/he really means: “Holy cow, I may be out-eating my running.”

What s/he wants to hear: “I’m driving to Target right now to get new batteries. That thing’s obviously not working.”

When your runner says: “Should I sign up for X, Y or Z race?”

S/he really means: “I want to do all three.”

What s/he wants to hear: “Pick the one with the best location and let’s make a weekend out of it.” Also appropriate: “Do all three.”

When your runner says: “I don’t feel like running today.”

S/he really means: “I don’t feel like running today.”

What s/he wants to hear: “Get out there. You’ll regret it if you don’t.” Also appropriate, “Don’t. Sit right there while I go grab the box of donuts from the kitchen.”

And here’s a cheat-sheet:

Decoding your runner

You’re welcome, runner lovers.

Written by: lachicaruns

My name is Gisgie. It's pronounced geese (like the birds) and gee (like the letter). Now that we've met, I'm glad you're here. I'm an injury-prone runner who manages to find reasons to keep coming back to the road despite ongoing challenges. Most recently, I've struggled with piriformis syndrome. I'm currently winning. Most days.


Sue Nichols

You’re doing a great service to the world! Especially, being misunderstood about the donut issue is always heartbreaking. If you can save even ONE relationship…

Nice work!


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