I’ve had several conversations recently about tribalism in running – particularly in London. With the massive growth in the sport in recent years, it’s only natural that different types of runner, as well as different types of race, club, and communities, have formed. Then there’s the different styles of running, which themselves take on a slightly messianic quality: the ‘barefoot is best’ vs maximalist, the ‘warm up is pointless’ vs committed pre-run stretchers.
The thing is, they are all right. For them. My motto when it comes to shoe recommendations is ‘there is no good or bad trainer, there’s just the one that’s right for you’ – and likewise in running itself, I think everyone should find their own way – and then leave it at that. There is no inherent virtue in wearing barefoot shoes vs more cushioned ones. There is nothing ‘better’ about running with music or podcasts vs silence. It’s just what you enjoy. One runner’s birdsong and sheep baaing might be another’s roar of the North Circular – putting music on to block that out doesn’t make them any less of a runner.
Likewise, if you happen to – to pick an example at random – absolutely bloody loathe every minute of a cross country race in sodding freezing blinding snow on a Surrey hilltop – that doesn’t make you any less committed. Though arguably doing it should have you committed …
I enjoyed my 19 mile long run – even the last few somewhat painful miles – infinitely more than not-even-five of Surrey hills. Do I lack commitment to training? I don’t think anyone could claim that. I just like tarmac. I like roads. And that’s fine. When I rule the world (you’ll back me, right guys?) a daily mile run will be mandatory – but where you do it and what shoes you do it in will not even be a subject for debate. Each to their own – but don’t ever assume that your road is the only road. Even if it is tarmacked.
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