I’m Going Out for a Rog

I participated in a 5K race in May that was for women. In fact, it was targeted at women with children, and children of the women with the children, or something like that.  One of the race bulletins had an editorial defense of the racers.  It hinged on whether or not you could call yourself a “runner.”  Apparently, some troll decided that if you don’t run a consistent eight minute mile, you are “just a jogger.”  Troll/Trollina felt so strongly about it that he/she (there are female troglodytes, too) posted it the discussion board for a race for mothers, where it is a given that many (really, most) of the participants will not meet that standard, being of a certain age/weight/time constraint for training.

I brought it up with my brother, who was a college level distance runner in the late eighties.  The eighties were really the high point for the sport, when people like Alberto Salazar were household names and still competing, and book after book was being published on why everyone should be out pounding the pavement.  I said, spreading my hands out as far apart as I could, palms facing outward, “When you were running back in the day, it was running over here (waggle left hand), and jogging over there (waggle right hand).”  My brother started laughing and said, “Yeah, you didn’t even do those on the same day.”

Seems legit, because, SCIENCE.

Seems legit, because, SCIENCE.

The dictionary definitions are pretty clear.  Jogging, you are in contact with the ground with at least one foot at all times.  This came from something HORSES DO.  Running, you have both feet off the ground for an instant during your stride.  (As an aside, why aren’t we calling it galloping, or cantering?  I digress.)  That clears it up!  Just get a slow-motion film of yourself on the run/jog, and see if you are indeed leaving the surface of the earth for an instant.  When the Running Police ask to see your Runner Cred, you can flash a frame that shows you off the ground.  I tested this on my last long run, which I can tell you was nowhere near eight minute miles.  I felt like I left the ground.  According to the dictionary, I was running.  But it is never so simple, is it?

How many sports are there that have a whole different name for people who do it worse than other people?  The only one I could think of was golf, where someone who does it badly is called a “duffer.”  I guess this means that they don’t take it seriously enough.  Even then, it’s not really ok to call someone else a duffer, unless they admit to it first, because they may be taking it very seriously.  A slow swimmer isn’t called a “bobber” or somesuch nonsense.  An amateur hockey player isn’t called an “ice monkey,” though that is kind of funny, and if you start saying that I want royalties.  Why does a large chunk of the running population feel like they are not qualified to call themselves runners?

This is one of the hills I am sure not to take too seriously.

This is one of the hills I am sure not to take too seriously.

People seem to invent thresholds to cross before they call themselves runners.  One way that people say they “knew” is an injury.  The best of these is the Lost Toenail.  If you run around the county playing Hansel and Gretel with shed toenails, then you are qualified as a runner.  I will probably never pass this test.  I ran over six miles on Sunday,  and my toenails are just fine.  Sadly, not one is turning black or falling off.  As an extension of the injury theory, if you have an injury and run anyway, then you are a runner. Most people would say that is courageous, even if it is stupid, but it’s not some sort of game of chicken to see who has the biggest bruises or tornest ACL.  If you want to compete with the other 12-year-old adults with injury stories, you go ahead, but stop using that measuring stick on the rest of us.  If you are in it FOR the pain, they have another name for that too.  It starts with “m” and ends with “asochist.”

Mileage? Do you have to run a certain distance before you are a runner?  Do you have to run it all at once?  How about your shoes?  Maybe if I buy a really expensive pair of shoes, people will recognize that I am a runner.  And a cute little running skirt thingy.  And a Garmin.  Where does the jogging stop, and the running begin—when your credit card is maxed out, or when you are so loaded down with gear that you can’t actually run anymore anyway?

Oh, give me that dirty shoe porn...

Oh, give me that dirty shoe porn…

As a last problematic touch, I usually walk part of my training runs, and my races, since I am telling the truth here.  Jeff Galloway, author of many fine books about running, walks during marathons.  My primary goal, as someone with a couple of weak mechanical points, is to live to run another day.  Some days, this means walking through the potholey patch, or down a steep hill.  Did I go for a run if I walked at all?  It is super fantastic to be proud that you ran a 10K without walking or resting.  That speaks to your conditioning, mental fortitude, biomechanics, etc…  It is just as cool to plan to rest along the way, but does that make you “just a jogger?”

I confess, sometimes I don't sprint all the way up this one.

I confess, sometimes I don’t sprint all the way up this one.

The last thing that I see in this is a question of attitude.  I think the assumption is that if you are not running as hard as you can (defined by Trollina as eight minute miles), then you are not an athlete.  Only athletes are runners.  The simple-minded majority is a pack of joggers, idiotically smiling their way through without a thought to how damned seriously they ought to be taking this.  Check the dictionary again, and it turns out that an athlete is “a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength.” [1]   Running a mile qualifies, even if you are wearing a wig and a tutu and singing the national anthem the whole time.  In my opinion, that qualifies even more.  The dictionary does not say, “and you have to be a certain amount of good at it, or buzz off.”

Since this is so confusing, and so poorly defined, I have come up with a couple of solutions.

Solution One:  Let’s just make up a new word for all the people in-between.  Enter: Rogging!  If you are running part of the time, or all of the time, but you just don’t feel like the real runners will let you in their club, you are a rogger!  Go rogging with pride.  Get a shirt that says, “I’m a rogger!”  Start a rogging club.  When people ask you what it means, just tell them that you don’t want to make the more elite amateur runners uncomfortable by including yourself in their club without permission.

Solution Two:  If you are intentionally moving faster than you walk, you are a runner[2].  You are running.  You run—and I am damn proud of you for it.  Keep on running, and running, and running…

Let’s Go Rogging!

[1] Merriam-Webster iPhone App.  How the hell do you reference that?  Ummmm…latest download?  Version number (which I can’t find, anyway).  Let’s just agree that I don’t steal stuff, even from the dictionary.

[2] You can unintentionally move faster than you can walk.  This can be accomplished by falling off a cliff, or being hit by a car, or many other things that should be avoided.

Twitter Is Just As Bad As I Thought It Was

I just recently started a Twitter account. I avoided Twitter like the plague for a long time, because I thought it was a time-sucking bunch of inane drivel. Then, a few months ago, my friend Tom Racine (@talltaleradio) convinced me to start writing a blog. Then, he said, “You have to get a Twitter account to promote it.” I replied that I didn’t want to and he couldn’t make me, because he is not my Dad. For a few days, however, the thought kept nagging at me. What if he was right? What if the little push my fledgling blog needed was a few simple tweets?

It has worked just as well as my MSPaint skills would indicate.

It has worked just as well as my MSPaint skills would indicate.

I went out to Twitter and looked up a couple of variants of my blog name, You Should Be Happy. Wow…no one had chosen “@YouShouldBHappy” yet! I’m not sure what happened after that. I think it was a bit like an auction, where you end up buying that box of garbage for $500—because if that other guy is bidding, it must be awesome. I thought that I’d better snap that up, because when my blog hits the big time, someone else might take it and try to capitalize on my success. How lucky for me that it wasn’t taken! What an opportunity! Don’t let it pass me by, oh please don’t let someone else be poised with their finger above the enter key before I can make it MINE.

So, I signed up for Twitter. I felt kind of dirty and didn’t really want to tell anyone about it, sort of like that time that Carlos Danger sent me that picture online. I made a tiny mention of it. Two of my friends followed me right away. And then a Complete Stranger followed me. I thought he must have picked it up from one of my other friends, because they are both into comics (the art kind, not the onstage kind). Cool! A Complete Stranger (sort of) is interested in seeing my tweets! Yeah! I followed him back, just to be nice. You see how naïve I am? I didn’t realize about the quid pro quo out there…

Until…another Complete Stranger followed me! A COMEDIAN. For me, well, this was great news. He is a *corporate COMEDIAN, but still. He had a couple of thousand followers. This was going to be fantastic. My Twitter future was looking bright. Two days later… he unfollowed me. I guess I didn’t follow him back fast enough. I thought:

“Maybe I should follow him, and see if he refollows me. At the very least, I can unfollow him a couple of days later, and see how HE likes it.”

So I did, and he didn’t, and I did. I’m not proud of that. I should have just passed a note to my BFF during third period that said, “Kevin is a big jerk! We won’t EVER talk to HIM again!!!!!” (Please note, his real name is Kevin, with a K, just like I’ve spelled it here. Feel free to find him and give him a piece of your mind.)

Miss Craig, would you like to bring that up to the front of class and read it for everyone? - Rhetorical Teacher

Miss Craig, would you like to bring that up to the front of class and read it for everyone? – Rhetorical Question Teacher

I’ve been out there for a couple of months now. I am baffled by the behavior of what I believe to be adults, for the most part. Here are the strangest behaviors that I’ve seen:

  • Celebrity Stalkers: Dear Celebrity Person, please please please follow me, because I want to tell my friends that you are following me! Dude, none of your friends are going to believe that you have ANY RELATIONSHIP WHATSOEVER with that famous person. They are going to think that you begged and whined in a desperate and pathetic fashion to get someone to pretend to be your friend in an imaginary world where their identity often isn’t even certain. Sounds like a grand way to use your time and measure your self-worth.
  • Retweety Birds: They never met a tweet they didn’t want to instantly retweet. They retweet someone else’s thoughts and jokes and writing all day long, never adding an original character. If your job, or avocation, is promoting an art form, a cause, or whatnot…fine. I will know that when I follow @catzpicsallday, I am going to get a bunch of pictures of cats. If I follow @originalthoughts, I would like something besides a bunch of Monty Python quotes.
  • Support Stalkers: I admit, I tweeted a rather cranky comment about how Norton Antivirus keeps interrupting my writing to tell me that it has expired, like some over-friendly ghost that pops in to say, “Yep. Still dead! That’s me, all dead,” every five minutes. While I enjoy being Kittyfriended[1] to a certain extent, I don’t really want to have to get a piece of software out of my face every 15 minutes. Now I have a new friend! Norton Support! I think the Corporate Stated Goal is to ensure that every Norton user has a top-notch experience, or somesuch thing like that. This will be accomplished by publicly announcing that they heard what I said behind their back, and they don’t appreciate me talking sh&t about them, and if I’m going talk sh&t, I’d better tweet it at their faces.
Oh, I see, it's a protection racket.  Pay up, or you might have a little "accident," if you know what I mean...

Oh, I see, it’s a protection racket. Pay up, or you might have a little “accident,” if you know what I mean…

  • The Perpetually Pissed Off: Wow. You have ground that axe down to a nubbin and yet you go on and on and on. I followed one person because I thought the name on the account was clever. Turns out, that one small bit of clever was spawned during the tweeter’s brief flirtation with lithium. The rest of the time, he or she is a raging psychotic, and delights in offending and berating Complete Strangers for any wrong, real or imagined. It was terrifying and extremely annoying. UNFOLLOW, dammit, why am I not unfollowing you faster?[2]
  • The Promoters: I have a thing! Look at me! I’m on a book tour! I’m signing things! I wrote a crummy thing about Twitter, which I am now going to promote on Twitter! I obviously don’t have a problem with the occasional tweet about your thing. It’s a good way to tell people about things and stuff. I do get tired of incessant tweets about your thing. I am probably not as obsessed with your thing as you are.
  • The Weirdest Person Contestants: I did not even know that these people existed, or that they knew the alphabet. Actually, some are more adept with the alphabet than others (see @jonnysun for an apparently clever person abusing the alphabet). It seems that they spend a great portion of the day coming up with the oddest things they can. Sometimes, it is really funny. Sometimes, it is just weird, and worse, they tend to build off one another. At some point, the weirdness level is going to be so high, that it will cause a black hole to form within Twitter, and everyone’s tweets will get sucked into another dimension, and we will be able to smell them. See what I did there? That is weird. I probably should put in some typos and tweet it.

    Hey!  I'm here for the number pic....  oh.  Hi, D.  Very clever, yeah, I get it.  Ummm... get out of the way.

    Hey! I’m here for the number pic…. oh. Hi, D. Very clever, yeah, I get it. Ummm… get out of the way.

The whole experience is a bit like Student Council Elections in the 8th Grade. Millions of people competing to be Class President, with homemade marker and glitter signs. The cool kids…are already the cool kids. The wanna-be crowd is unlikely to become the cool kids. There are a few stand-outs who have made reputations, and built followings, based on the quality of what they have to say, including how they condense it into as few characters as possible. That’s cool. I’m not going to cancel my Twitter account, even though I don’t much like the overall vibe or the medium. After all, I have to keep telling my six followers about updates to the blog. I’m sure it is the highlight of that Norton Support guy’s day.

Oh…and follow me at @YouShouldBHappy. There’s a little clicky button on the side of the page right there.

Postscript: I now have five followers. The guy who draws the incredibly violent comic book has unfollowed ALL of his Twitterites except the Rajneesh. The actual Rajneesh who took over Antelope, OR, with his fleet of rainbow Cadillacs. Being a Native Oregonian, I remember the news coverage of the Rajneesh and his actions, many of which were not as above-board as you might think a “spiritual leader’ would strive for, including the first act of domestic bioterrorism. The Rajneesh has been dead for 23 years, and is still annoying Oregonians from the grave. Well played, sir.

[1] Kittyfriending is the process of getting all right up into someone’s face and meowing repeatedly until they break down and pet you. Kittyfriend was a neighborhood stray at our first house; he was aggressively friendly to the point of absurdity, which was oddly charming. Long live beautiful, scraggly, big-hearted Kittyfriends.

[2] I finally got this lunatic unfollowed. Two days later, Twitter sent me an e-mail suggesting other accounts that were like “@nutzball.” I guess this was to help me find the right kind of crazy, because I obviously wanted some crazy in my feed.