Sunday, February 26, 2012

Distance runners have their own sense of humor

Runners, particularly long distance runners like marathoners, can develop an unusual sense of humor. It’s not clear whether this comes from the amount of time they spend out on the road alone, or from long runs with runners already infected with the offbeat runner’s humor, or if it might in fact be the physiological result of the brain bouncing up and down in the head for all those hours.

Regardless of the source, there’s nothing that changes the boredom of the day to day long runs like a little humorous entertainment. When I was in high school this involved the normal pranks like mixing glue in the Vaseline that a runner used on his feet to avoid blisters. It can make removing socks after a run a rather challenging event. Or taking the spikes out of the runner’s shoes and coating the bottom with motor oil, introducing the runner to the equivalent of trying to run on ice. But bright individuals with time will also tend to expand their vision to more challenging escapades.

At our high school we had a small school bus for the agricultural students to travel out to the local farm for classes. The cross country team got to borrow it for races at other schools and our coach would do the driving. This left the runners with freedom to explore all kinds of creative entertainment in the back of the bus. Often these were simple in nature like putting a sign in the window of the emergency door in the back that said honk if you love your country. The coach kept pulling the bus over thinking people wanted to pass him for going too slow. But the simple turned to more complex when we disconnected the alarm to the rear emergency door. The runners would wait to a car was following particularly close behind and then one of the runners would pop open the door and flop out the upper half of his body like he was falling out. We would then haul him back in by the back of his shorts being careful not reduce his chances of having children in the future. I’m happy to report that while startled, none of the drivers had a heart attack. At least that we know of.

Of course as runners move from high school to college and beyond, both the distance and the sophistication of humor increase. One Saturday before a particularly long trail run one of the guys in the group was handing out water and energy food. We had a runner in the group who consistently insisted on running in the front of the group and pushing the pace. On this particular morning his ration of chocolate was replaced with a medicinal version (Ex-Lax). At about 4 miles he had to leave the front of the pack for a nature call. And nature continued to call him every mile for the rest of the run.

Runners have a strange relationship with their T-Shirts and it frequently becomes a way of expressing a more personal sense of humor.

- The realist: “Pain is temporary but your time posted on the Internet is forever”
- Pregnant Runner Shirt – Arrow pointing down to the belly – “Runner in training”
- Woman’s Shirt – “I don’t go all the way” and underneath “Half Marathoner”
- “I like to do LSD” – Underneath “Long Slow Distance”
- For the more arrogant – on the back – “Follow me to the finish”
- Then there are the baby T’s – “Future running buddy”, “Born to Run”, “I plan to run before I walk…get ready”, “Grandpa has me doing wind sprints”
- One of my favorites…On the back “I spit to the right”
- For the Gung-Ho - “Kick Assphalt”
- For the religious – And on the 7th day God did an easy 3.
- “My sport is your sport’s punishment”
- On the back – “Since you’re behind…how’s mine?”
- “There’s no Surgeon General warning about smoking the competition”
- “If you’re reading this you’ve been passed by an old fat guy”
- And least we forget…the mentally self aware – “Any idiot can run. It takes a special idiot to run a marathon” and on the front…”Marathoning is a state of mind”. Back…”It’s called insanity”.

Then there are the inside runner jokes that sound strange to non-runners but get a chuckle out of marathoners. Sayings such as “You know you are a distance runner if”
- You have more running clothes in the laundry than regular clothes.
- You lost a toenail and you tell people it’s no big deal
- Your treadmill has more miles on it than your car
- You watch the weather reports solely to plan your runs for the week
- You have more old running shoes in your closet than regular shoes
- You know where your IT band is and it has nothing to do with Information Technology or music
- You are happy to see (and use) Port-a-johns.
- When someone mentions a city you know all the best running places but none of the best restaurants
- You swear your running watch goes with every outfit
- You can’t smell yourself after a run but everyone else can

If you made it this far in this blog then you are clearly a runner or have way too much time on your hands. In either case you might be interested to know that there is even a running comic strip called “Running on Empty” (Jason Nocera), and at one time there was a running radio station called WRUN that specifically catered to music for runners. Around the Boston Marathon they would play favorites like “Please come to Boston”, “Monday, Monday”, and “Born to Run”.

Maybe the best way to sum up running humor is that the runners don’t always get the last laugh. A marathoner is purported to have asked his wife “Honey, what do you like most about me; my tremendous athletic abilities, my muscular physique or my superior intellect? She replied, “I love your enormous sense of humor”.

Until next time!

1 comment:

Edmund X. DeJesus said...

Love this t-shirt:
My sport is your sport’s punishment!