Friday, July 22, 2011

6 Reasons Why You Should Never Run Smiley

As a blogger, I understand the importance of providing something useful to my readers. I don’t want my contribution to the blogosphere to be merely an exercise in self indulgence. So I’ve always tried to balance the “the-legs-were-tight-today-as-I-ran-my-favorite-5-mile-loop-in-my-tech-shirt-and-ultra-minimalist-shoes” posts with something interesting, or useful, or amusing. Hopefully I succeed in some small way once in a while.

One example of this was a pair of posts (here and here) that I published a while back in which I attempted to warn runners about the dangers of running barefoot. In total I provided 13 convincing reasons why you should NEVER run barefoot. I had a lot of good feedback from these posts which made it all worthwhile.

So it is in the same spirit that I bring you the 6 Reasons Why You Should Never Run Smiley. I have been reading a lot lately about some people that say that they have learned to run and have fun at the same time. I see this as a real danger to the running population and will be doing my part to try to root out this evil before it gets too far. So if you run into (not literally) one of these people and they try to convince you that running smiley is a good thing I hope that you will consider the following carefully before you head out on your next run with anything but a scowl.

Reason One – What will people think?

Think about it. You’re running down the street, or sidewalk, or trail, perhaps even the dreadmill. You have a silly grin on your face. You’re sweating and breathing rapidly. It doesn’t really matter what else you’re wearing. Tech shirt or cotton. ASICS, minimal, or barefoot. Kilt, shorts, or skirt. Compression sleeve and/or RoadID and/or Garmin and/or MP3 Player. That smile is what people will notice. It will be out of place. Oxymoronish. Sesame Street “one of these things just doesn’t belong here” kind of unusual.

Everyone knows that running isn’t fun. It’s painful. It’s hard. It’s boring. Yes, it’s necessary for some. To lose weight. To train for races. To stay in shape. But it’s nothing to smile about. So what will they think? It can’t be good. Silly. Crazy. Out of touch with your feelings. Masochistic. The heat has gotten to you. Who knows?

Can you really risk this? Will your ego be able to handle the pressure of wondering what conclusion they will come to? I highly recommend you think twice.

Reason Two – Don’t You Want a Full Body Workout?

All (or most) runners understand the importance of exercises that strengthen more than just the lower body. The core, and even upper body muscles are important for running efficiently and minimizing the chances for injury. And you barefooters out there understand the importance of engaging all of those muscles in your feet that shoes tend to shunt. So we must all realize that in the same way a full facial workout is just as important.

Everyone knows that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. If your mother didn’t teach you that she should have. Now I understand that some have challenged this old saying. They think that it’s not true. But can you really take the chance? Think of those frown-enabling muscles! Even if there are fewer of them than their smile-inducing friends, can you afford to NOT have them toned and strong? I thought not. So no matter what, you must spend at least a portion of your run with a full scowl. Only in this way will you fully exercise your face and minimize the chance of injury to said mug.

Reason 3 – You Might Give Away Your Secret

As someone observes you running smiley they will wonder if you have some kind of secret reason for that joyful countenance. Now some days you might not have any reason, other than your perceived joy of running and enjoying your surroundings. However, I’ve been reading that many of these smiley runners have after run plans that involve things like big meals, tasty beverages (including the adult kind), etc. Sometimes a lot of these beverages. And food. And friendship.

Now do you really want people watching you run to figure this out? They might follow you. They might crash your after run activities. Drink your adult beverages. I will say no more.

Reason 4 – Someone Might Talk To You

As you run by, or as you pass or are passed by someone else running, they will likely be more apt to say something to you. Ask you a question about your smile. Strike up a conversation. Now while some might think that is a good thing I say it must be avoided at all costs. Socializing while running is a very risky activity.

You might have to slow down or speed up, or even stop to talk to the person. This change in movement might cause you to stumble or slip. You might strain something. It will mess up your heart rate training. Take your attention away from counting your cadence. Think of all the stamina you will lose due to these interruptions. Putting on your best grimace will greatly reduce the probability of these unwanted social encounters.

Reason 5 – You Might Do Something Crazy

There have been some really bad cases of this Running Smiley stuff that should be pointed out as a deterrent to any considering this incredibly risky activity.

Some have described having a desire to run through mud. Some have actually been so happy they have stripped naked and run through Amish Country. Some have run barefoot through cemeteries. These are bad enough, but there is one case that deserves special discussion. We will call this patient JR, so as to be careful about the HIPAA laws.

JR actually enjoys his running so much that he and his wife (we’ll call her SR) have decided to quit their jobs, sell almost all their possessions, buy an RV, and head out on the road with their whole family. They have very little idea where they are going, how long they’ll do this, or whether they really will like doing it. Can you imagine? All this because they love to run.

JR not only smiles when he runs a few miles but he recently ran 100 miles and he seemed to be smiling in every photo I’ve seen from the event.

Now I know JR is an extreme case. But have you ever heard of a slippery slope? If you crack a little smile on your next run it could be the start of something you might regret for the rest of your life. Maybe you won’t go on the road in an RV or streak through a graveyard, but who knows, you might start your own running blog. You guys might end up buying a kilt. You might start reading poetry about running, and barefooting. You might develop an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that involves watching “ Chariots of Fire” and reading “Born to Run” over and over and over again. I beg you. Don’t let these things happen to you.

Reason 6 – They Might Try It

Finally, and perhaps the most important reason why you must NEVER run smiley, is simply because someone might see you and try it themselves. Do you really want to carry that guilt on your shoulders for the rest of your days? Do you really want to be the one that spawns the next “JR”? Could you stand the shame? Could you?

OK. Good. I didn’t think so. So wipe that stupid grin off your face and get out there and grind out a few agonizing miles. And say a little prayer for JR and his family.


  1. Loved this! When I started I hated when people would make comments as I ran by. Finally I'm getting over that.

  2. hahaha Bob! nothing like a good laugh at 5:30 in the AM!

    I find being the smiley guy in the morning doesn't attract conversation so much as it scares people away! Here they come, maybe talking to their running partner, grimaces on each of their faces, and here I am coming in from 6-8 miles with a cheerful "Good morning!" and I'm lucky if I get a nod sometimes. And that's only if they aren't drowning out the world in their headphones!

    brilliant post and a great laugh!

  3. This is Fantastic. I loved it. I loved your "Reasons you shouldn't be a barefoot runner", and this is even better.

    Thanks, it brightened up my day.

  4. This is the funniest thing I have ever read!!!
    Hope "JR" reads it!!! Just hilarious!!!
    The funniest part is how much truth it REALLY imparts re/ the "unsmiley" runners!!!