Kristen R: How To (Not) Compliment a Runner

During my long run Saturday, my friend and I were complimented not once, but twice. First, halfway through our seven+ miles, a woman we had run by about three times during the course of our loop, gave us a big smile and said, “You two look so cute!” Then, when we were done, we stopped for a coffee. Every bit of clothing on our bodies was wet with sweat and I know we were stinky. Really stinky. An older woman came up to us at the coffee shop to tell us she had seen us running. She made it a point to say how great we looked out there.

These two things never, ever happen to me. Ever.

The first compliment gave me real pause because I know that when I run, I look like a lot of things, but cute isn’t one of them. I’m tall. I’m not graceful. In my race photos I always have a furrowed brow and I look pained. We were running on some pretty steady hills, too, so I know my face was very un-cute during this run. The same is true for being told I looked great out there. That someone would say that to me leaves me a little speechless: Really? Did I really look OK out there? Did I really look like a runner?

Those two people made me think I did.

I appreciate these ladies paying some kind words our way. I’m not ashamed to say I might have preferred to hear  that I looked tough or bad ass over cute — but a compliment is a compliment — and I’ll take them.

This got me thinking, though, about some of my least favorite running compliments or encouragements:

  • You’re almost there. Am I? Because if I can’t see the finish line I’m really not that close. Mentally, it’s all about that line of sight: Out of sight, out of mind. We’re just running to the next mile marker until they run out — and that’s when we’re almost there.
  • You’re injured? At least now you can take some time off from all that running. If only it were that easy…
  • What’s wrong with your feet? Actually, I have a love/hate relationship with this one. While my feet aren’t totally messed up, I have some of those lovely runner calluses on my big toes that never go away, so they are kind of jacked. But they are badges of honor to us runners. As are the missing toenails.
  • You ran all that way — why? Do you have a passion? That’s why.
  • Did you win? Of course not. I’m running in races with Elite Runners. Nationally and internationally ranked athletes. Do I think I’m going to win? Heck, no. Ask me, instead, if I crossed the finish line.
  • Why do you bother if you’re not going to win? Here’s where the use of the word “race” is deceiving. Don’t think of it as a race against other runners. It’s a race against yourself. It’s a head game. It’s a mental test and even if you have to limp across that finish line, by god you’re going to finish. Don’t knock it — or try to understand it or downplay it — until you’ve worked your butt off and crossed a finish line.

What about you? What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to running “compliments”?

In the meantime, just know you look cute, great, tough and bad ass out there. You’re out there! That’s more than a lot of other people can say.

Gotta run!
Kristen R.

2013 mileage to date

KHP Art Below

KHP - Last nights drawing fun!

KHP – Last nights drawing fun!


About Kristen R.

Counting down to 40, while juggling motherhood, marriage, the corporate grind & middle-of-the-pack running. It's OK to point & laugh.
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4 Responses to Kristen R: How To (Not) Compliment a Runner

  1. wwwmama says:

    I like that the ladies are cheering you on instead if tangled up in jealousy or pettiness. We all need more cheering. I hate the whistles or beeps from men as they drive by. I can’t imagine there’s ever the same quality in those responses as when another runner or woman gives you a verbal high five

  2. Kristen says:

    “You are almost there”. I wanted to jump the people at the end of the wine country half. It was a lie, flat out!

  3. Jim Brennan says:

    I like the people who shout “looking good,” or even better, “you look great,” to you at mile 23 of a marathon. I think, ‘are you kidding me?’

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