Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The 10 types of runner – which are you? (written for UK Athletics 03/08).

There’s no denying it – whatever the weather, however tired we might feel, we all love to pound the roads relentlessly; day in, day out - either in search of gaining that extra advantage when it comes to race day, or just to help shift a few pounds.

But have you ever asked yourself exactly what type of runner you are? NICOLA BAMFORD explains the ‘10 types of runners’ and elaborates on their distinguishable traits and behaviours, to help you identify exactly which ‘runner category’ you fall into...

1. The obsessive runner – sometimes their own worst enemy. The obsessive runner will not necessarily gain an extreme level of personal satisfaction from each and every run, but would rather be condemned to hell than miss a scheduled training plod or session.

The ‘Obsessives’ worship and aspire to emulate their hero; the great – and ultra-consistent - Mr Ron Hill. This, however, can occasionally instigate injury and illness; resulting in the obsessive runner becoming withdrawn and exceedingly depressed – life as they know it, has ended.

This type of ‘runner breed’ cannot function properly in its’ daily tasks without indulging in its’ regular guilty pleasure of a 30-min outdoor escapade at the very least. Should this fanatical athlete complete a run under the expected time period, then they will simply jog on the spot until the clock hits the desired point in time; only then can a sense of full contentment be enjoyed.

The classic rugby tackle is also usually recommended to halt the ‘Obsessives’ from another set of reps in training, and WARNING! – They WILL resort to breaking and entering to use the track or clubhouse gym during holidays.

Obsessive runners tend to race at every available opportunity; normally each weekend and their numerous skills include being able to reel off the personal bests, achievements and vital statistics on any runner, worth their salt. Yes, the Obsessive runners live, eat and breathe running.

2. The reluctant runner– needs a kick up the backside even to get out the door for even a weekly bimble – shame on you!

Cunning tactics used to entice this so-called ‘running enthusiast’ into a pair of trainers include the meticulous positioning of an accompanying training partner for motivation, or the promise of either a cold, frosty beverage or a slice of pie on the successful return of their athletic endeavours.

The ‘reluctants’ prefer to remain anonymous through fear of embarrassment of their laziness and being lynched by the hard-core nutters; mentioned in the above category. They know they ought to run (if only to justify their club membership) but live by the motto; “I’ll do double the distance tomorrow” – yeah, right!

3. The ‘in denial’ runner – comes in two different species. The ‘in denial of health’ runner will continue to train despite the onset of injury or illness. The only guaranteed method of preventing such runners is for a fully-qualified physiotherapist or physician to literally scare the hell out of them with tales of potential run-threatening ailments or developing heart-failure.

Useful signs to spot this ‘runner bread’ include responses such as “Nah, I’m fine - that bone’s always stuck out there!” and “Why I am clenching my side (conspicuously situated near the appendix area) as I run? – it’s just a bit of stitch; it’ll pass!”

The ‘in denial of their ability’ runner believes their running capabilities are far superior to what they really are. Such runners will make absurdly unrealistic race predictions and seek sponsorship and elite entry to races only worthy of athletes who cross the finish-line before they even reach the half-way mark – bless!

4. The moaner – the World always seems to be against ‘moaning runners’. The heavens appear to only ever open the instant they set foot out of door for a run, and the organisation and courses at races are just never good enough!

The call of a ‘Moaner’ is usually heard during the beginning, middle and end of runs and especially sessions. Phrases such as “How far?!”, “Aren’t we done yet – my quads are killing and it’s raining!” and “Thank goodness for that – never again!” are typical responses to even the easiest of exercise levels. A ‘Moaner’ just isn’t a moaner with moaning, now are they!

Even if the temperature, weather conditions, traffic, registration tent, entertainment, refreshments and the race itself are up to scratch, ‘Moaners’ are always sure to find the proficiency to dig up some problem or another; usually a convenient excuse to employ for the cause behind their lacklustre performance – pure genius!

5. The over-enthusiastic runner – believes “you’re not running properly if you’re not running fast!” This breed of ‘runner species’ is so keen and eager to run each and every run, session and race at maximum effort, that all sense of caution, rational thought and pre-arranged race tactics are instantly thrown to the wind as soon as the starting gun fires.

Otherwise known as the competitive or stupid runner, the ‘over-enthusiasts’ have no need for wise implements such as heart-rate monitors – that would only slow them down!

These runners are always the first to arrive at race start-lines and are noticeable for their impatience; notably the necessity of being physically held back by a duo of muscular men, to ensure they refrain from false-starting; such is their level of over-zealousness – it’s just a hobby!

6. The plodder – ‘Plodders’ are blissfully content to bimble around, admiring the views on their runs; whether it be during a Sunday 10-miler or in a race situation. They hold no fear of being lapped or overtaken by 12 year-old girls, for – as they so frequently like to say – “What’s the rush?!”

As in the old adage of the Tortoise and the Hare tale, ‘Plodders’ believe that sensible pacing will prosper in the end and that the pace of life is too hectic as it is, so why would they possibly want to speed up? (Because the race marshals would actually like to leave the course before Midnight, mate!).

7. The stubborn runner– akin to the ‘in denial of health’ runner will, without doubt, run through injury, hurricanes and hail storms; because, after all – “the bigger the challenge, the tougher (physically and mentally) it makes you in the end!” – ‘Mental’ being the key expression there!

This ‘runner breed’ is a complex kind; behaviours include phrases such as “No! – I WILL NOT stop my session just because I’ve been reduced to literally crawling - I’m no failure!” and similar to the ‘Obsessives’ and ‘Over-enthusiasts’, will at times require physical intervention, due to their inability to distinguish when it’s time to stop.

8. The Mileage-Mad runner – lives by their training log and calculator. Such runners take great pleasure in boasting their weekly culmination of covered-distance (although, many are prone to over-exaggerating or even concocting such numbers from mid-air) and in their never-ending quest for mileage perfection, will even resort to clocking up nonsensical athletic trips, such as the customary pre-race jog to the bushes for the call of nature.

The ‘Mileage-Mad’ runners are often heard to ask “But why can’t I do 11 instead of 10 reps? – it’ll make my total figure this week nice and round, then!” and their favourite past-times include relaxing at the end of a hard weeks’ training with their calculator – how sad!

9. The Rule-book runner – will never train without their heart-rate monitor; through fear of approaching the slightest moment of over or under-exertion. These runners literally stick to the ‘rules of running’; which, although appearing to be sensible, actually borders on obsession (yet, this breed must not be mistaken for an ‘obsessive runner’; their hearts rule their heads, rather than vise-versa) and can actually inhibit their progression and performance.

Although ‘Rule-book runners’ stretch prolifically, eat and drink the adequate types and amounts of nutritional foods and supplements and ensure they regularly update their running shoes, they have a tendency to be skint because of this addiction to abiding by the rules and often lose face of what really matters; enjoying themselves!

10. The Pot hunter – travels the length and breadth of the country, in search of trophies and prizes. Typical behaviour comprises the search for most financially and treasure-attractive races at the beginning of each season (followed by swift entry of course) and the pursuit of training specifically, with an aim of attaining such riches.

The epitome of materialistic, the ‘Pot hunters’ solely use their fixation with increasing their possessions as motivation to train and race, and will only compete for a kettle at the very least!

· So there you have it; the 10 types of runners! Hopefully, this insight has been an enjoyable – if eye-opening - read, with moments of sharp self-realisation.
Which type am I....? - A mixture of number 1, 7 and 9 – not a bad combination, if I must say myself!

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