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A Question About Running Enjoyment

I often run in our close-knit neighborhood where I wind near homes of friends, past  businesses, and around parks, churches, and schools. 

It’s not unusual to later bump into a friend in our neighborhood who says, “I saw you running the other day.”   They sometimes ask how far I was running, am I getting ready for a race, or comment how much I must really enjoy running. Those are genuinely nice people and I politely reply briefly about my running and then move on to chat about the weather, spouses, kids, etc.

Happry_running_girl Then once in a while some dunderhead asks me, “If you enjoy running so much, how come you don’t smile when you run?” or “I’ve watched marathons on TV and why do those runners look miserable?” 

Zing!  They feel like they just busted me!  They sheepishly grin like I was just exposed on Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator.”  I smile and let them believe they found me out, and that I, plus millions of other runners world wide, are fakes. 

So does not smiling while running run tell the world runners are miserable?   I guess so.  Yup, we’re all just out there every day pretending to find enjoyment, satisfaction, and other rewards in running.

Happy_guy_running_2_2 Hmm, is it our faux enjoyment that explains why we pour ourselves into our fitness?  Is that why getting new running shoes is a sacred experience and why those who truly understand runners well, like Josie, give runners gear and gadgets as gifts?

Is it our imaginary enjoyment that explains why we spend our hard-earned money on race entry fees?  And how do we explain why many like Marcy get up early to run or run in the heat of the mid-day or the last hours of the evening to fit in some miles? 

Why do we plot training runs and race dates on our already-busy calendars?  Why are some of our best friendships with those who also suffer through their running?  Some folks must associate sweat and effort as synonymous with running self-inflicted torture.

Happy_runner_smal_girl I actually believe many non-runners  do understand that runners enjoy running, and accept that we don’t need a grin plastered across our faces as evidence.  But to some skeptics, we runners appear to be screwballs.  Sadly, they haven’t experienced the thrill of the running life, and secretly, I believe they’re suffering from running envy.

So now with the smiling and enjoyment question put to rest, I'm looking for responses to some other far more important running questions:

  • Why is it when I walk up several flights of stairs along with non-runners, I’m just as short of breath as them?
  • Why don’t runners wear striped shirts?
  • How many non-blogging runners do you estimate there are for every one of us blogging runners?

Happy Girl running on Flickr by Lynn

Happy Man running on Flickr by Traveling Gurl

Young Happy runner on Flickr by Design Grave


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I smile as I pass any nonrunner - a real big toothy one. I have decided to be "crazy" runner on the trail. They always give a little nod/smile and move a little farther to the side.

As for the stripes question...that is a fantastic question and one I don't have an answer.


Strangely, I am less winded trotting up a flight of stairs than walking it. I am not sure why? Not sure on the striped shirts, I would guess there are probably more than 10,000 for everyone posting. Of course there is not science for this belief.


I wish those people who questioned the happiness of running, actually tried it out. It's amazing how I get the same questions you do, but more in a joking or laughing at me manner. It's rather rude... but don't people eat cake without smiling? Don't people like to shovel ice cream down their throats.. without one smile?
I don't smile because I need to relax my muscles in my face. Smiling is just a waste of extra energy to be used in running longer or faster... in my eyes anyway!

Answers to your questions:
~Going up hill or on stairs just makes us out of breath... maybe run up stairs instead of on the road and you'll beat those non-runners in no time with less heavy breathing next time?
~We don't like striped shirts because they come up funny in race photos?
~Gosh, there's probably thousands per blogger... I could only imagine!

Thanks for the fun post!


Constant smiling uses too many muscles in my face, so I'm saving my energy for my run. I smile after I catch my breath. :)

And I would wear striped shirts if companies would make them.

Art Dinkin

I don't smile when I run because there are times I actually hate the run itself, but the smiles come later when I have finshed. I do not so much enjoy the run but how I feel after. Of course every now and then I can actually enjoy the run too. You can bet I am grinning ear to ear on those days!:)

Tom, you missed your calling. You should have been a philosopher! My take:

1. I may be just as winded as a non-runner when going up the stairs, but soon I am breathing normally while they are still gasping for breath!

2. I don't wear striped shirts because I would never feel skinny enough to pull it off. Those people would be the "real" runners (sorry Amy, could not resist!)

3. I have no idea how many non-blogger runners there are. I blog, but not about running. And I am ashamed to say yours is the only running blog I read.


Haha, I SHOULD smile when I'm running. Although, it just looks like I'm grimacing. Watch, when those Half-Marathon photos come out next week I'll look like I was in pain.


I have to agree with Art.

"1. I may be just as winded as a non-runner when going up the stairs, but soon I am breathing normally while they are still gasping for breath!"

I can be totally winded but I recovered within seconds. They usually need a few minutes.


I always smile and hi's to mostly walkers in my area, but almost always I have to be the first to make the contact otherwise, they just walk on by looking straight ahead.


Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'll bookmark your site and check back often.

I have to admit to being one of those people who would point out the pained looks on runner's faces and wonder why they were doing that to themselves--until I started running myself. Now I feel like we are in on a secret and the grimace is merely a mask the non-runners can't see through.

A difficult run may leave our faces twisted and contorted but they should see us later...with smiles, healthiness and happiness. Who's laughing then, right?


Rob, Brad, and Art, You're right about those stairs, and particularly how much easier we recover while the non-runners are still huffing & puffing.

Nitmos, Great point, we do a lot of smiling once we stop and enjoy the benefits of running. Thanks.

Lisa, please be sure to post those race pics.

Kate, I guess it's our job to keep running and model how much we enjoy it. Thanks for your comments on this.

Everyone, keep an eye out for a striped shirt for David. I believe he'd really wear it.

Thanks to all for your views and insights!


We may not be smiling while actually pounding the pavement, but how many race photos do you see where the runner is not smiling (unless we don't see the camera guy/girl)...I think that we just usually in deep thought about whatever and that is why we don't smile. I'm not smiling right now but I'm really happy here on the couch.

As far as the other questions: I double-time stairs so I'm not out of breath but walking up the hill to my office with laptop bag in tow...I'm totally out of breath

Why don't we wear stripes? I don't know that I've ever seen a striped singlet...lots of solids, but no stripes.

And I couldn't even venture to guess how many non-running bloggers there are.

Asics Running Shoes

This is the one we did, isn't it??? It's one of my all time favorite runs.!

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