After fighting my way through the suburban rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon, I was so excited to walk into the conference room of the local Holiday Inn to pick up our bibs for Saturday’s run. More on the event itself in a later post, but through the few minutes I spent there getting our bibs, I was one of the unlucky to observe how a non-runner behaves. On the way home, in the stop-and-go traffic I had plenty of time to keep thinking about what I just saw and I decided to share here my thoughts on how to spot a non-runner and at the same time what you definitely do not want to teach to your children.

This is also a great way to spot a non-runner...

This is also a great way to spot a non-runner…

First of all, I am definitely not perfect (although scary close to that… hehehe) and I am sure my way of raising kids probably offers plenty of room for improvement, but I felt sorry for the two little girls. First here is what happened:

Conference room with tables, bibs in boxes, helpful volunteers of the race trying to calmly help everyone finding their bibs and apologizing for the inconvenience of not having the T-shirts ready, but assuring everyone that we will be able to pick up the T-shirts on Saturday morning either before or after the race. No big deal, at least for me and several others who calmly accepted the apology and left with their bibs.

No problem for several reasons:

  • Cotton T-shirts were already included in the price (Tech shirts were $10 extra) so you did not really have to pay extra for them
  • The fees paid were for the benefit of the athletes of Special Olympics of our county so you kind of donate the money for a great purpose
  • The event itself is more important than the T-shirt and you could pick up the T-shirt on race day morning anyway, so if you wanted to run in your new T-shirt, you still had every opportunity
  • Why would you want to get (negatively) excited about a T-shirt on a Friday afternoon?

However there was one lady there with two little girls, who very angrily demanded a refund. A refund! Let’s say she had the whole family tree running, everyone paid extra for a Tech shirt (which I am pretty sure was not the case), still would be silly. Please think before you demand a refund, so you will not look completely stupid. For a calm question of why she is requesting a refund, her only answer was: she drove all the way here and ended up wasting her time if there are no T-shirts available for pick up. For me it seemed that every time she said out loud that she wanted a refund (and she did not really say more), she got more and more excited (nervous).

Here is why this refund request did not make too much sense in my humble opinion:

  • She might needed the money for food or something else really important => I am pretty sure whatever amount of money she demanded back was not going to help her. At least not with such personality and attitude
  • Let’s say they were really counting on wearing those T-shirts on that afternoon => I am glad that is their biggest problem in life. Pffffff…..
  • Demanding a refund on a run that is for the benefit of a good cause? => Can you sink any lower? Maybe after dropping a few dollars into a homeless person’s bucket, then returning a few minutes later and taking it back. That might be lower…
  • Trying to show your kids how to be tough? => With the same effort why wouldn’t you try showing positive example to your children? What are you trying to teach to your daughters? How not to be flexible at all and how to act as a hysterical brat (I would rather use a different word here that starts with the letter B…) whenever there is a minor hiccup?

So based on this experience here are two important characteristics to look for if you want to spot a non-runner:

  1. Zero tolerance for the unexpected: as runners, we all deal with different forms of unexpected challenges. Cramps, pain, sweat, rain, wind, sunshine, show, ice, hot, cold, blisters, bad food, tiring week in the office, being forced to skip a workout, etc. If we would get hysterical whenever we encounter any of these unexpected obstacles, the race course would be so noise, full with crying and depressed people and at the Finish line everyone would be standing in lines to demand a refund, because the weather was not perfect or the cramps were ruining a PR attempt.
  2. Ruining the great opportunity of using a running event to teach something positive to your children: a running event can be used to demonstrate so many positive things to your children. How to conquer a challenging task, How to handle tough conditions, How to adjust when unexpected things come up, How running for the benefit of Special Olympics athletes is for a great cause, a sport event (e.g.: running) is fun, we are all there for the fun. Making a scene when you learn you will have to wait a bit more to get your T-shirts is not helping.

From our part with or without T-shirt we are going to have a great time. I hope you will have a great run as well!