What “good job” actually means to the struggling runner


If you happen to ever strive boosting the spirits of a struggling runner by sharing an encouraging phrase, solely to have the gesture returned with a toothy snarl or deflated sigh, strive to not take it personally. That runner crashing and burning earlier than your eyes has doubtless reached a psychological depth the place processing motivational phrases is not possible, and your good intentions get misplaced in translation.

Thankfully, years of dismal race performances have made me fluent within the language of failure. Ought to you end up saying one among these well-meaning phrases, solely to have your phrases land with a thud, think about how they could actually sound to the ears of a struggling runner.

runner giving thumbs up

You say: “Good job!”

They hear: “You’re clearly the inferior runner.”

I’ve had sturdy races, and others that sputtered right into a DNF. The one time I hear the phrases “good job” from different runners is after I’m completely tanking. That’s as a result of there’s an unstated hierarchy—sooner runners can inform slower runners they’re doing job, however it doesn’t work the opposite manner round. I’m going to inform Cam Levins he’s doing a “good job?” Who do I believe I’m?

Each time a runner tells one other they’re doing job, as form because the intentions are, it’s an acknowledgment that the previous is definitely doing a greater job than the latter. What’s actually infuriating is once you cross paths with one other runner who’s clearly struggling as a lot as you’re, they usually lob a “good job” at you. “You’re ‘good jobbing’ me?! If anybody needs to be ‘good jobbing’ anybody, I needs to be ‘good jobbing’ you!”

It’s particularly soul-crushing to be the “good jobee” in an out-and-back race, once you hear a swelling refrain of “good job”s as runners cross you, after which get handled to an encore as they double again to the end line. And one thing I discovered simply this weekend after blowing a race in Mexico: “¡Buen trabajo!” is “Good job!” in Spanish. It sounded far more romantic, however it didn’t harm my coronary heart any much less.

not the home stretch

You say: “You’re within the house stretch!”

They hear: “You’re nowhere close to the end line.”

Sturdy and struggling runners outline “house stretch” in another way. To the previous, it might be your complete second half of a marathon. To the latter, if the end line isn’t inside spitting distance, you’re not within the house stretch. This innocent phrase is supposed to bolster shaky runners by means of that closing, powerful push of a race. The struggling runner, in the meantime, causes that if this actually have been the house stretch, it might be apparent to everybody, and there’d be no have to declare it as such. It’s as useful as listening to, “You’re at the beginning line!” because the race begins.

For runners who’re having a very powerful time of it and are in a very snarky temper, “You’re within the house stretch” will also be translated as: “You don’t know the gap of this race you’re operating proper now, though you signed up for it, and also you’re clearly unable to learn that big GPS watch in your wrist that’s monitoring your distance.”

injured man

You say: “Ache is momentary, glory is eternally!”

They hear: “You look completely horrible.”

This one’s often reserved for runners who, at finest, appear like they’re not going to complete the race, and at worst, are a brief step from oblivion. It’s the Hail Mary of motivational sayings, directed at solely essentially the most determined of souls. To the struggling runner, it merely underscores what horrible form they seem like in. An alternate translation: “Please preserve shifting so I don’t have to have a look at you anymore.”



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