Sometimes, being a runner is a lonely experience. You’re surrounded by well-meaning friends and family members who don’t always sympathise with your struggles, and perhaps unwittingly even discourage you with some irresponsible remarks. All runners can relate to the following five statements, and here are some of our responses.

“Why are you so slow?”

If you look at a car, it’s got multiple gears. Likewise, runners are able to run at different speeds. There is no way you can maintain the same effort for a marathon as you would for a 50m sprint. We are going to assume that only non-runners are rude enough to say that, in which case, we might be slow runners, but we are slowly moving forward. If you are not a runner, you are not moving at all.

“You run so much – why haven’t you lost weight? I thought runners were supposed to be skinny!”

Well, you thought wrong. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. It is a myth that all runners are skinny – look at the starting and finishing lines of any race event and you will see that running is as democratic a sport as it gets; unlike some sports with strict image requirements, running is a sport so liberal that even having limbs is optional (just look at all the Paralympic runners). As long as you have the determination to run, you are a runner.

Also, believe it or not, not every runner you meet is running only to lose weight. That said, if your friend is running for weight loss and has yet to see results in that area, the last thing you should do is make such a disparaging remark to kill his/her interest. Running brings with it a myriad of benefits, from improving your mood, better sleep, reducing the risks of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, sharper mental functions, to a sexy glow to the complexion. Are these not reasons enough to keep on running?

“Why would you pay that much just to run a race?”

If you think our race registration was expensive, wait until you see how much we spend on running shoes… Jokes aside, this question is offensive because how a person chooses to spend their money is nobody’s business but their own. Yes, races are pricey, and only getting more expensive, but let’s assume that most runners have factored the upcoming season’s race fees into their annual budget, so unless you know someone who’s actually bankrupted himself/herself from running in too many races, rest assured that they’ve made certain lifestyle choices and willing sacrifices to participate in running events. Although, if you are so concerned about our personal finances, we’ll never turn down your offer to sponsor our next pair of running shoes…

“You’re almost there!” (when the finish line is nowhere in sight)

We are tired, we are thirsty, we are hungry, but we are not stupid. It may be said out of the goodness of your heart, to encourage a weary-looking, delirious runner in a marathon, but it isn’t helpful. Every runner has his/her own mental strategy for tackling an endurance race, and your kindness may be misconstrued for deception. Also, pacing is of utmost importance to finishing a race within a goal time, so a runner will know he/she still has another 14km left to run, and will question your perception and judgement of distance.

“So did you win?”

Yes, yes I did, actually. I woke up before the crack of dawn for months to drag my backside over countless kilometres. I shuffled my entire school/work schedule and social life around my training, because I still only have 24 hours in a day like you do. I made sacrifices that would make your heart weep; you still owe me that beer and pepperoni and cheese pizza I had to forego the night before my race. I showed up to the starting line, scared and excited. I ran with a crowd who were strangers and friends at the same time – we all shared one goal, one hope and one dream, and for a moment, I experienced the best of humanity. I tackled a distance I never thought was possible a year ago, by beating my excuses, my fears and my demons. I have crossed the finish line, exhausted and exhilarated for I have done the impossible. Am I not a winner?