16 Things Only Casual Runners Understand

In the seventh grade, I showed up to my school's track with a CD player, a Linkin' Park album, and a pair of foamy on-ear headphones, and decided I was going to be a runner. In the television movie of my life, this would be the major turning point wherein I struggled for some months, then a wise old dude showed up to give me the secrets to unlock my true running potential, and the credits would roll after I overcame my ~demons~ and placed in the Olympic marathon. In the real world, the only old dude who showed up was some guy telling me I should probably move before the sprinklers went off — and although I did go on to compete pretty fiercely in middle and high school, my interest in running after that was the purely casual, non-cinematic kind.

Let me define casual running for you: sometimes I go running every day for a week. Sometimes I go months without running at all. Once a month I can bust out a mile under seven minutes, and then promptly do not even want to look at my sneakers for the other 29 days. Basically, I like running alright, but I have no extreme beliefs about it or overwhelming passion for it. I vaguely know what I'm doing, and that's enough.

Enter running in 2015. We got our fancy fitness trackers, our super sleek Nimbus 2000 running shoes, and an aggressive social media presence that would have, quite frankly, intimidated the shiz out of me as a kid. I may run for life, but I was not made for the #RunningLife, and anybody who is as half-committed to running as I am will understand these struggles all too well:

You really only show up to running expos for the free food and swag

Tiny wedges of tasteless energy bars, I am HERE for you.

You can never decide if you love running or you hate it

Like, this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. *buys a new pair of running shoes*. I hate it so much. *checks the weather for tomorrow*. If I never go running again it will be TOO SOON. *sets alarm to get up at an ungodly hour the next morning*.

... Dammit.

The only thing you hate more than running is talking about it

It's like describing the taste of air to someone. There are only so many ways to describe slapping your feet on the pavement over and over for an inordinate amount of time.

... And the only thing you hate more than talking about running is someone giving you unsolicited advice about it

Ugh, getting runsplained at the gym.

Somebody trying to be your "running buddy!!" is your worst nightmare

Nothing against humans — but no thank you please to ever being held accountable for skipping any and every workout in the foreseeable future.

You spend 99 percent of your running time thinking about dinner

Interval training is a literal impossibility, because your daydreams about bacon take up way too much of your focus to acknowledge a stopwatch.

People are almost offensively surprised when they find out you're a runner

"Run? YOU?!" YES, ME. Take a whiff of eau de pretending to be fit, y'all.

No feeling in the world compares to skipping a race you signed up for

True life: I'm starting to only sign up for races for the visceral ~thrill~ of sleeping in on race day.

You have literally no idea what your split times are

I can run ... some distance ... in some amount of measurable time? Trying to figure out your heat wave in a race inevitably ends with you either getting stuck behind all of humanity, or attempting (and failing) to outrun it.

And you have no idea how far you've actually run when you come back from one

Oddly, fitness trackers are not super keen on measuring "I left after I finished that episode of Friends but made sure to get home before my Seamless order did".

You got one minor running-related injury in your life, and you bring it up whenever you have to prove to someone how #hardcore you are

Yeah, I got shin splints one summer. *gazes off into the distance*. It was mildly inconvenient, but I'm no hero.

Super ambitious runners actually scare the bejeezus out of you

It's like how in 2008 you were all, "Yeah, I read all the Twilight books, but I didn't actually, like, enjoy them." That's how casual runners feel about hella committed runners. Like, we kind of get it? But also ... we're just gonna stand a few feet to the left, if you don't mind.

You are really nerdily into ~theme races~

Beer runs, color runs, Disney runs, donut runs (don't knock it 'til you've tried it/almost thrown up on the side of the road at it). Running is not enough to get you out of bed, but for some reason pelting strangers with colored chalk does the trick.

Your excuses to not run today are prolific

Oh, snap. Mercury's in retrograde again. Better sleep in!

And if you don't go first thing in the morning, you probably won't go at all

5 o'clock is wine o'clock, y'all.

But you know no matter how long you go without running, something will always summon you back

A boppin' new Top 40 hit that is begging for you to go running to it. A sweeeet pair of fancy leggings someone gifted you. The autumnal gods #blessing humanity with the best weather on earth. You can try to stay away, but running will find you every damn time.

Images: Unsplash; Fox; Giphy