I am not a fan of seeing pictures of myself running. Well that’s not quite true, I don’t mind pictures of me sprinting because most pictures of anyone in full flight look impressive. But the pictures of me in any distance race always look pretty naff. In my head I run with not too bad form but in a picture my knees are really low, my arms are all over the place and I just look rubbish. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a picture of me in any race but I think that’s because I don’t need a picture of me gurning on my living room wall. And anyway, should it really matter how you look getting to the finish line?
I noticed a conversation on social media about how an individual looked in a photo shoot about running. It got a bit heated and I’m sure there was mention of a site taking the piss out of how people look when they run. That’s pretty shitty and anyway only top athletes have perfect running form good enough to be photographed right?
There are so many athletes with little quirks in the way they run. Priscah Jeptoo is the first example that came to mind. When she won the 2013 New York Marathon people were aghast at her knock knee style. How on earth could she be a top marathon runner with a style that we are all told is totally wrong? Well she just is. Sometimes the body will take the path of least resistance and even though it looks awkward it is obviously a winning combination with her endurance talent.
And Priscah Jeptoo is not the only example. There are many other top athletes with unconventional styles. Paula Radcliffe’s head nod. Anita Hinriksdottir and her arms which never seem to be by her side. Michael Johnson’s choppy action. And in my opinion David Rudisha’s robotic style can at times look incredibly awkward. The only runner I’ve seen with even close to ‘perfect’ style for me is Genzebe Dibaba but I’m sure some of the self appointed purists could even pick her to bits on her form. And if you look at the end of any hard fought top level marathon race form pretty much goes to hell. But when we watch these individuals we’re not mocking the way they run. In fact it is their running styles which can make these runners so memorable.
I think we’ve all got a little running trait that makes us look a little bit awkward and feel a bit ‘Phoebe from Friends’. But to pull others down on how they look while running is appalling and knocks the inclusive, friendly reputation that the running community is so well known for. So before pulling someone down for their awkward running style praise them for their efforts in getting to the start line or for getting out on that run. We should be encouraging and supporting each other while acknowledging that we’ve all got those quirks that make us a little bit ‘awkward’. But looking awkward ain’t always a bad thing. Just look at Priscah.