I have seen The Atlantic article, “Everyone You Know Really Did Just Get Engaged“, get shared approximately 8,000 times in the last minute on Facebook. With my below-average eyesight and medium-range pattern recognition skills, I also saw that many people did put a ring on it between November twenty-something and January-now. And I congratulate those people. But there is something far more prevalent and alarming than engagements permeating social news feeds that I feel I must address:
When the fuck did everyone I know suddenly becoming professional runners?
It starts out innocently enough with the 5k, a race that spans 3.1 miles. But the problem is that it’s a gateway drug that gets shared far more often than the Semi-Random Guy You Went to School With who got engaged to the Friend You Didn’t Know Even Knew Said Semi-Random Guy.
After my Facebook friends got bit by the 5k bug, the color runs followed. (That’s an actual type of race.) Apparently, there’s a variety of other themes to be had while propelling oneself forward via sneakered foot, and they too sound like 1950s dance moves (like the Turkey Trot, for example). Then after all “fun runs” have been completed — which are, by the way, two words that should never hold hands and yet they continue to do so — people begin to look toward half marathons.
I understand the concept here. You’ve just completed a fantastic goal, one that manifested through a resolution, an encouraging friend, or an extremely worthy cause for which you raised money and awareness using your feet. You’re flushed from the elements, high on endorphins, bolstered by your chanting peers and emboldened by the fact that you completed something you may not have thought you could do. I used to run, back in the day. It felt amazing. So I get it.
But that was in college. That was when I had all of this free time, when my major life choices after attending mandatory classes were to A) nap, B) study C) workout or D) drink. My answers were always A) yes, B) no, C) why not and D) yes. But now I’m in the real world — and so are my Facebook friends.
When did everyone find hours to re-train their breathing patterns, up their endurance, strengthen their core, and stretch? No one used to stretch. This whole running thing is just like those old teen movies; I feel like I’m sitting in chemistry class, minding my own business, when suddenly! the entire student population breaks out into synchronized and meticulously choreographed dance. “Is that Kenny playing trombone? When the hell did he learn to do that?”, I ask my lab partner next to me, who is actually no longer next to me because she has joined in the Rockette-worthy kick-line.
So: why didn’t I get the mass text that notified me we’d be re-creating the finale from High School Musical? And where was my running memo?
Recently, a wise friend (who runs) gently suggested that what I’m feeling is fear — of adulthood in general, and I’m projecting my anxieties on to those social media happy 5k-ers. Perhaps my friends who have suddenly developed a love for running in ice-rain, Instagramming at dawn and posting about their accomplishments in time clocked or miles raced have cracked a seminal life code that I have yet to figure out.
It’s just that for now, I’m more comfortable walking.