I’m Not Sorry


Image by djniks via Flickr

Here’s a topic I’ve been wanting to address for a while lately: apologies.  Specifically, women, apologies, and exercise.  It’s something I’ve danced around a bit, especially when I’ve posted about group running, but not something I’ve had a chance to address directly yet.  Until now!

(How ominous is that introduction?  I hope very, because this post isn’t meant to be ominous at all and I think some incongruity is in order.)

For the longest time, I refused to run with a group or a partner with any kind of regularity.  It always felt so uncomfortable to me, and no matter what, it seemed like every run would start the same way: “Oh, just so you know, I’m slow, so feel free to run ahead of me or leave me behind or whatever.  I don’t want to hold you up.”  (this would be said by at least one person, often me)  Which would be followed by: “Oh my gosh, no, I’m totally slower, so don’t even worry about it!  If anything, you’ll be passing me!”  Things could go back and forth like this for a long time, each person (well, woman) trying to out-do the other in how slow or pathetic they were as a runner.  Not only was it always totally awkward, it was also always totally useless.  It’s another one of those things that women get socialized to do: don’t ever state that you’re good at something; be as self-effacing as possible; and if you think you might either be better than someone at something, or significantly worse to the point where you’re inconveniencing them, then by all means apologize.

It wasn’t until I started running with my LUNAChix group that I decided that the whole I’m-slower-than-you ritual had to stop.  I don’t know what it was exactly that pushed me to draw the line and kick the habit, but there were definitely a few contributing factors, including the fact that 1) I’d never heard men do it; 2) I was getting sick of hearing myself do it; 3) I just wanted to start feeling better about my running, part of which had to entail not going into every group running situation and starting off by saying what a bad runner I was.  It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re constantly putting yourself down.  And thus in the same way that I’ve stopped “having fat days“, I’ve stopped apologizing for how I run.

Without meaning to sound preachy, I think this is something that all women runners should do.  When the urge comes up to explain that you’re “slow” and you don’t want to “hold anyone up”, think about the fact that these are other people who have voluntarily come to a group run and must understand that not everyone there will be able to run at the same pace.  I know that when I’m doing a group run, a big part of the reason I’m there is to enjoy the company and have a good time.  I don’t care if I end up running slower because of it.  I’ve still gotten my mileage in, and I’ve also had time to catch up with friends or make new ones.  If I want to run faster, I can do it another time.  And as far as I’m concerned, that’s what other runners can do too.  If that’s a problem for them, well, it’s not my fault.  So I won’t apologize–I’m not sorry.

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  1. You’re absolutely right… all women need to cut this out, not just in running either. In so many other areas of life. Plus, I’m the same way… I go to group runs for the company, support and encouragement that comes from people pulling together to do the same thing.

  2. Hear hear!

    I’m not a group runner, but the few times I’ve run with another person I have definitely done this. The thing is, I’m not that much slower, but we just naturally have different paces! I run a lot slower in the beginning and work up to a good pace, whereas she goes out of the gate strong. So I actually caught up to her and ended up finishing shortly after she did – I totally had no need to apologize!

  3. If your blog had a “like” button akin to Facebook, I would “like” the hell outta this!

    Last weekend at a roller derby tournament I was playing in a fun game with a bunch of girls who had never met each other. Before the bout we went around the circle saying what league we were from. Rather than simply saying, “Charm City”, I prefaced my introduction with “I’m fresh meat from…” I was apologizing for being an ineffective teammate before I even began to play.

    Why force others to judge you according to an unmerited standard you apply to yourself?

    I like the hell outta this post!

  4. Great topic! I have definitely done this with running buddies, whether it’s to tone down my abilities for someone slower than me or to warn someone faster than me!

    However, I also know that I do it in other aspects of my life. It could be apologizing for the cleanliness of my house to a guest, or for not doing something at work as well as I think I could/should have. I think we really should stop apologizing all around! If my house isn’t perfect, so what? And if I HAVE done something well, or am good at something, there’s no reason I shouldn’t stand up and take credit for it.

    I think this might be my motto for July–I’m NOT sorry!

  5. Agree. Another post topic – associating morality with exercise and food. i can’t count how many times people, women in particular, exclaim when someone goes to the gym: oh you’re so good! Um, no. How about when they see what you’re eating: oh you’re so good/better than i am. Again: no. Really annoying and i don’t know how to say something pithy in response!

  6. I am a slow runner…short legs, bad knee and asthma force this upon me. I have embraced the fact that most people can run 2 miles in the time I run only 1. But I am still out there, slowly running and not sitting on the couch.
    I do try and stay away from group runs and runs with friends b/c I am so much slower than others I always feel like I am holding them up!

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