Thursday Things

1. Look at this crazy duck I saw over the weekend!


I was in downtown Naperville on Saturday and saw this bird along the Riverwalk. Isn’t it nuts?! I scoured the internet (i.e.: did one Google search) to try to figure out why it looked like that. I think it might be a domestic Mallard? I didn’t realize people domesticated Mallards, but apparently that’s a thing, and I guess sometimes people breed them to have white feathers…or something like that. I didn’t really understand the article, so I don’t know what I’m talking about 😛 But regardless, it was quite the unexpected sight!

2. Has anyone ever used the Chicago Public Library’s eBook borrowing? Ever since I started working at my current company (…two and a half years ago), I’ve had a pretty dramatic decrease in the amount of reading I do, because with my new job came a new commute, and that new commute usually required a lot more standing on trains than the commute to my first job in Chicago required. I’ve found it’s much easier to hold my phone than it is to wrangle an actual book when I’m standing on a train, and that has naturally led to a lot more Twitter and Facebook and a lot less reading. I know that you can get an app on your phone to get eBooks from the Chicago Public Library, though, so I’m interested in trying that out. If you have used eBooks from CPL (or if you get eBooks from your local library), I’d love to hear about your experience!

3. And now, a rant.

I am well aware that the majority of people are not long distance runners. I understand that to people who are not long distance runners, the distances I run on a regular basis are incomprehensible. I recognize that people who have never gone through marathon training will likely never understand how I could ever consider a 10 mile run, never mind a six mile run, to be 1) attainable and 2) easy. It does not bother me that people who are not long distance runners might have no desire to run long distances themselves, now or in the future.


It does drive me up a freaking godforsaken wall that a person with whom I have routine contact feels the need to constantly–constantly–express how flabbergasted they are by my marathon training. That every. single. time. they ask me how many miles I am running today, ran yesterday, or plan to run later in the week, they insist on responding to my answer with, “*insert number here* MILES?!?!?! I don’t know how you do it!!!!!!” It also drives me up a freaking godforsaken wall that when I provide an answer to a question about long distance running–for example, that if I go out for an 18 mile long run, the point is to not slow down between mile one and mile 18, in response to being asked how much a person slows down over the course of that distance–this person wholeheartedly refuses to believe the answer I provide–in this example, that it is impossible that a person would not slow down during an 18 mile run, that they would almost certainly start out at an 8:00 pace for the first mile and drop down to a 10:00 pace (“basically walking,” according to their assessment of paces) by the second mile)–followed by an assertion that if they were ever to try to run more than one mile, they would most certainly slow down by mile two and/or die.

Look, I get it. (Kind of. I do not get the need to editorialize on other people’s pastimes, since I’m certainly not offering up any commentary on my opinions of their pastimes.) Even though I’ve been running for seven years now, I clearly remember when I was in middle and high school, when I firmly believed my body could not cover more than two miles at a time and that a 5K was 100 percent beyond my ability. I clearly remember being unable to comprehend how a friend could run 13.1 miles when she announced that as her summer plan during college. When you’re not running long distances, the distances that other people, especially people who seem normal (i.e.: not professional runners) can cover is mind-boggling.

But just because it’s mind-boggling doesn’t mean you need to commentate on it time and time and time again!! I have plenty of other people with whom I have regular contact who are able to ask me about my running (“When’s your next race?” “How’s marathon training going?”) without informing me that what I’m doing must surely be impossible or that they “don’t know how [I] do it.”. I am perfectly happy to talk about my running or training with people who are genuinely curious, or at least have the tact to pretend that they’re genuinely curious. Talking about it with people who seem to be baiting me for the purpose of expressing affronted incredulity drives me NUTS.

Have you ever borrowed eBooks from the library?
How do you (kindly) deal with unsolicited feedback about your hobbies?
My approach thus far has been “answer all questions in an exasperated tone and hope they get the hint,” but it has so far proved to be an ineffective method.

14 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. I can understand how it’s frustrating to get that reaction all the time, although it’s never personally annoyed me that much. I just shrug it off because I realize that most of these people are, in their own roundabout way, trying to be complimentary when they express bafflement at the distances I run. Possibly, in some cases, it may even be a manifestation at a little bit of envy as well. I kind of chalk it up to different personalities and conversation styles; the person on the other end may be acting tactless and annoying but they’re probably just used to blurting out all of their reactions and don’t realize they’re doing anything upsetting.

    My advice: just give a tight lipped smile, shrug, and change the subject. When people give me the “OMG how is it even possible to run that many miles?!”, I usually don’t even say anything back because they’re not actually looking for an answer as much as they’re mostly talking to themselves, if that makes sense. It’s hard not to let exasperation creep in sometimes, but I don’t think answering that way is helpful. The other person doesn’t realize they’re saying anything wrong and will probably just read your exasperation as standoff-ishness.

    These days I don’t even really talk about running with non-runners unless someone asks me (like, genuinely asks). Situations like this are the reason why.

    • Admittedly, the person in question does have a tendency to get on my nerves regardless of whether the topic is running or something else, so I’m sure that doesn’t help the whole drives-me-nuts situation. Despite the fact that I blog about my running, this is really the only place where I don’t mind going into detail about distances, paces, etc. In “real life,” I tend to not talk about it unless I’m prompted to do so (I find it’s difficult to bring up the fact that you run marathons apropos of nothing without coming off as being pompous about the fact that you run marathons, haha), which is also feeds into my frustration in this particular situation I’m sure – that it’s less that I’m being prompted to talk about it and more that I’m being prompted to defend its possibility. This person does have a tendency to express their reactions (especially their contrarian reactions) whenever given the opportunity, so I’m sure you’re onto something with the differences in personalities/conversation styles thing.

  2. I have only used the Zion library eReader so I am no help there! Good luck with it!

    Wow! I am impressed non-runners ask you about your running! How nice! Ha, I am kind of joking (kind of…). I encounter a lot of people who want to commentate on hobbies and things they know nothing about. If it’s someone I can avoid, I do. If it’s someone I can’t, I avoid bringing that up/talking to them, or if they can handle the feedback (they aren’t a sensitive baby) I tell them how it makes me feel when they ask those questions.

    I do hear a lot of “I could never do that” from other athletes I train at my studio who don’t run. It’s mostly awe, and we move on. Your person with an agenda sounds frustrating. It’s just annoying that people have these canned responses to stuff, and we have to hear them over and over. I try not to be that person in return and ask thoughtful questions about other people’s hobbies I don’t GAF about 🙂

    • To be fair, running is probably my most visible hobby (it’s one thing to not bring up the fact that you have a blog; it’s another thing to try to walk around like a normal person the day after a marathon 😛 ), so if people want to make small talk with me, it’s a common thing for them to bring up. I don’t ever bring it up unless it’s directly relevant (like if someone asks what I’m doing on a weekend when I have a race). I try hard to not be That Runner–the one who constantly talks about the fact that the run (said…the running blogger. Haha. I apparently lead a very different online life than offline life 😛 ), so that probably adds to the my annoyance at the situation as well – I don’t want to talk about what I’m doing in a way that sounds like I’m bragging, but when the reaction makes it sound like you’re bragging, that makes the whole thing that much more frustrating.

  3. My library system uses Overdrive for e-books, which from my impression is a pretty common one, so might be what you have available! If it is, I found trying to use the actual overdrive app/system very not-user-friendly (but have heard it’s improved in the pats few years), but can also access it through an app called Libby. And Libby is very very easy to use! I’ve started reading a lot more since I installed it on my phone!

  4. Bethany,
    I honestly get so much flack from my co-workers about how much I run … most monday’s its so bad that I generally have to leave my headphones in so that I don’t have to even respond because I have nothing to say to these loonies who seem to think its insane that I run more than 1 mile over the weekend. Yes, I usually run 15+ miles on the weekends (at one time) who cares. No I am not slow and no I will not feel bad for it. I think it would be awesome to live in the city and be able to run downtown for all of my long runs. #jealous
    I use my local library for audiobooks and I listen to audiobooks on my long runs where I don’t have specific time goals. Its so nice to have something other than music to listen to.

    • I’m sorry you have to deal with that 😦 It is really frustrating! I do enjoy running along the lakefront, but running downtown can definitely be a headache – too many stop lights! The lakefront is wonderful, though, and I hope you’re able to enjoy some long runs on it if you ever move to the city (or just want to come into the city for the sake of a long run!) 🙂

  5. I have the CPL app on my phone but I haven’t used it yet. I used to check out eBooks from CPL and put them on my Kindle but my Kindle is so old that I have to manually plug it into my computer and add the eBook files to it. If I had a newer Kindle (or used my phone) it would be much easier. I just get annoyed that it’s an eBook but there’s still a limit on how many people can have it checked out at the same time.

    Fun fact: my best friend from college? Her uncle is the one who started Overdrive, the main eBook company for libraries. My friend even worked there for a bit doing proofreading.

    As for people who say stupid stuff about my running and lifting? I do the same thing as Hanna and just shrug and change the subject. Sometimes I will also say something like, “well, it’s not like I decided one day to go outside and run 15 miles. I had to work up to it.” I agree that most people who say stuff like that have their own personal issues. Depending on your relationship to this person you might also try saying “Have you noticed you almost always have the same response? Any idea why?”

    • I know, I was surprised that the first book I thought of to check out (Devil in the White City) was one I would have to put on hold! But I imagine they must buy access to a certain number of copies, and that must be why only so many people can have it at a time. That’s crazy that your best friend from college’s uncle started Overdrive! Tell them to tell their uncle thank you for me – I’m loving using it so far!

  6. #3 is a frequent topic of conversation between one of my best running friends and me. I really minimize talking about running as much as possible in real life unless I’m with someone that is actually interested in it (either because they also run, or just care about stuff I like and do, or both), primarily because it always seems to elicit some awkward response even when I’m not even the one who brings it up! It bothers me because they make it seem like I just went out to run 10+ miles one day and now do that whenever I feel like it, when in reality you and I know the amount of time and effort it takes to work up to the distances we run. My friend and I have a theory that some people react this way to sort of cover themselves, lest they be judged by us…as if our immediate reaction to talking about our own running habits is to judge the habits of anyone who runs less than us (or not at all).

    At my last job I had a co-worker who was a fairweather runner and ran to train for occasional races up to half marathon, or whenever the mood struck. No shame in that! Our running views and goals were obviously very different, and that’s fine. He would frequently ask me about my running (especially in winter and on other days that weren’t 60 degree, breezy perfect running days) and respond about how he really needed to start running again. I never knew how to respond because quite frankly I couldn’t care less if or how much other people run. It always struck me as some weird kind of insecurity, like my running made him feel inferior for not running (even though he’s the one who asked!). Some people just seem to have this idea that people who run think they are better or fitter or whatever than those who don’t, and therefore feel compelled to give us their litany of reasons they don’t or can’t run (not that we asked…).

    • I agree with this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a conversation with someone who says they don’t run (or run, but don’t run marathons, or whatever), and then before I can even start to respond, they immediately launch into a bunch of justifications – and apologies – for why they don’t run. Um…okay, thanks for sharing? Like why do they assume I’m going to rip them a new one for not being a runner before I even have a chance to react? My assumption is that these people have had some negative experiences from people who judge their level of fitness, or feel guilty/bad about the fact that they don’t work out. It’s Projection 101.

    • Yes! I think the work I put into it piece is definitely part of my frustration, too. I FIRMLY believe anyone (without a major condition that would prevent them from safely doing so) can train for and complete a marathon if they put in the time (and they want to! You don’t have to want to! You are not a lesser person for not running a marathon, or not running at all!). But it’s not like I can just head out any given weekend and bust out 26.2 miles. Heck, there are times where I can’t bust out three miles, depending on how much time I’ve taken off! The reaction to the number does feel like it minimizes the work it took me to get to that number in the first place, and that certainly doesn’t help.

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