Fast versus Fun…the “Proper Runner” saga continues.

Ok so firstly let’s get one thing straight, the twitter debate last weekend between myself and Jason Henderson (editor or Athletics Weekly) was nothing at all to do with the concept of “Fun” runners, that is not a term you will ever hear me use, neither do I describe myself as “a Fat Jogger” else the website would be called something else wouldn’t it? No the debate last week was purely down to the suggestion that plodders and joggers were not “Real” runners.

You can check it our here if you haven’t seen it yet

20140517-143509.jpgDespite this minor discrepancy over terminology, Jason hits back this week in a two page spread on page 28-29 of his magazine summing up his thoughts. He makes some interesting points about what running actually means using the stats he has to hand about world record speeds for walking, and in competitive running through the years including the fact that in 1983 more than 229 Brits broke the 2.25 marker for the marathon and last year (2013) is was only 26.

What the hell does any of that have to do with the thousands of recreational runners who have no desire to play a part in competitive athletics? Surely that has more to do with coaching, funding and motivation for the sport at the highest level?

Apparently I vented my fury last weekend in the blog that highlighted his poor choice of words, why would I be furious? If anything I feel saddened by the gap which Henderson himself admits he has probably helped drive the wedge even further.

The comment which annoyed me most in this latest response was that he found it strange that “fun runners” ran regularly with no desire to improve and that we even revel in the fact we are slow. How do you know this is the case? Do you ever ask slower runners about their running aspirations?

Personally I have been training really hard over the last year to get under 30 minutes in my 5k – this may be laughable for someone at the opposite end of the athletics spectrum but I am a full time mum trying to run a business with limited access to funds or a coach, and ultimately I don’t want it bad enough.

20140517-145357.jpgTrying to make a comparison between slower runners like myself and 40 year old mum of two Jo Pavey is preposterous. The much loved British professional runner went on to win her 10k race last weekend in a time of 32.11.36 – close to the time it takes me to run half that distance.

What Jo did was of course very impressive, but give me some of her funding so I didn’t have to work and access to her full time coaches, nutritionist and psychologists and I dare say I would improve my race times too. But no need to worry about your title Jo.

This argument about what constitutes real running could well run and run, and someone like me is never going to change the hearts and minds of individuals like Jason who are so involved in the elite side of the sport that they fail to see what running means to the rest of us. And that’s ok with me.

Jason seems a bit narked that I have the audacity to try and make a living from supporting slower runners, but why would he care? I can put money on the fact that nobody who buys my ebooks or attends my run clinics have ever bought one of his magazines anyway. Its not like we are in competition.

And that is the point. The reason people like me and fellow author Ruth Fields exist is because there is a demand. Two thirds of the adult population in the UK are overweight or obese, and I guess these people even if they did want to run would feel unwelcome or out of place at a race meet or running track so why not offer practical solutions for better health for this audience?

20140517-143340.jpgFinally while we are on the topic of speed I managed a PB today at Wanstead Flats parkrun. My previous PB of 32 minutes flat was set in March 2012 a few weeks before running my first marathon. After having a 10 month gap to have my daughter Rose my parkrun time went back up to around 50 minutes, and it has taken me the best part of a year to even come close to my pre pregnancy 5k speed.

Today was the third anniversary of my local parkrun and with the biggest crowd ever (over 140 I think) I managed to knock 15 seconds off, coming in at 31.45 with plenty of runners behind me for a change.

At no point did I jog on that course, I ran as hard and as fast as I possibly could to the point of near collapse at the end. I will continue to work towards better and better times, but I will never forget why I run in the first place and that is to improve my health and to be a happier person.

I suggest that Jason Henderson stops wallowing in the fact he can’t run a sub 3 marathon anymore and learns to love the sport of running for what it is – an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of speed!!

Keep an eye out for my latest eBook “Scream if you want to go FASTER available on Amazon from July!!


Scream if you want to go faster by Julie Creffield




10 Responses to “Fast versus Fun…the “Proper Runner” saga continues.”
  1. katedale says:

    Well said Julie – I’m sick of the misappropriation of the word sport. Some weeks a pb for me is getting out the door and doing something despite everything that is going on in my life. I find it baffling that the devotee of any activity would be so completely the opposite of evangelical re the thing they love doing. Running give me sanity – why limit that to the chosen few who can do it at a certain level? Can’t we co-exist?

  2. misspond says:

    And no wonder so many kids are put off exercise if they always have to compete.
    I work hard to push as hard as I can, but I will never be a sub 20min let alone a sub 30min 5km! Attitudes and articles like his put me off more than anything, so I tend to ignore that athletics world and magazines and enjoy the support from real runners like you and I on twitter and blogs instead 🙂

  3. TartanJogger says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more (again)!

  4. TartanJogger says:

    Reblogged this on TartanJogger.

  5. Really, I don’t understand why a guy like Jason cares if someone is running competitively or not. He ought to look at his reasoning because if he thinks people should quit running because they aren’t fast enough by his standards, how does that help the sport? How does he know how hard someone is working? I dare say most runnings want to get faster, but we all don’t have time to put into that pursuit. I’m fortunate enough to have time to put into training, but I dare say I’m not up to snuff for Jason and his ilk despite that I’ve been running about 15 months and decreased my 5k from over 30 minutes to sub-23. When do I get to be considered a “real” runner?

    I won’t be holding my breath for an answer. I think people who look down on other runners have ego problems. I don’t see why we can’t all exist and be mutually beneficial to the sport.

  6. Matt says:

    “I guess these people even if they did want to run would feel unwelcome or out of place at a race meet or running track so why not offer practical solutions for better health for this audience?”

    As Jason said, there is room for all people on the spectrum of running, as clearly shown by the success of Parkrun. Its not fair for you to “guess that people would be made to feel unwelcome or out of place at a running club” We are equally aware of the benefits of running. Jason’s original tweet was meant as invite to see elite athletes perform close up, to those who already have an interest in running
    There is nothing in his tweet or article that suggest he wants people to stop running.

    “set goals and generally improve as a runner” The aims of your clinic sounds very similar to the conversation athletes will have with themselves and their coaches.

    Please don’t continue to argue that you’re trying to break down the divide, by continuing to raise counter-arguments to thoses that weren’t raised in the first place.

    • fattymustrun says:

      I am only going on the fears that people express to me about joining a running club or going to track for the first time.

      I have experienced good and bad when it comes to athletics clubs.

      We don’t need to agree, my blog posts are simply my response to the 2 page article which named me and my blog. I have a right to respond just like Jason did.

  7. mariekeates says:

    Supporting Commando on a 10k yesterday I cheered on the two ladies coming in well behind the pack in last place followed by the back marker. If anything their efforts are more worthy of praise than the people effortlessly going round in thirty minutes or less. The snobbery of some runners and running clubs is something we could all do without.

  8. elihawkins6 says:

    well said. Whether we run for speed, fun, or personal bests, the main thing about ALL runners is that we run to better ourselves…on any level.

  9. Well its always nice to read a good and well written post about running. Love running!

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