"Oh you are a runner? How far do you run? Have you run a marathon?"
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me these questions I would be able to fund a running career. Why do we measure the merit of a runner by the distance they run?
I am a distance runner and I love my long run and distance races but I have yet to race a marathon and my mileage maxed out at 80-90 miles per week 5 years ago. When I was running high mileage I was miserable. My life revolved around getting in the miles. I would run in the morning before school, if I got up early enough. I would run to school and at lunch. I would run home from school and take the long way. I avoided going out with friends because I wouldn't get my miles run. Sundays were spent running and then recovering from my run. I double ran on my speed work days. I was too tired from running to climb stairs, it took me 45 minutes to walk to school (when I was not running) and I did not smile. I had no sex drive, woke from my sleep with night sweats and became skeletal. I couldn't even drink, one beer and I was toast with a hangover in half an hour. I managed to make a semester of school in England less then ideal and then I got injured.
The injury opened my eyes. It was my first real injury that prevented me from running for any period of time. This injury placed running in perspective for me. I realized how much I loved running but also how running has to have a place in my life, not be my life. It was while I was injured that I came out, when I started to become the real me. I stopped running away from me. When I was able to start running again I stopped counting miles and ran because I loved it, not because I had to click off the miles to please my teammates or coach. I do ensure I do a long run and I "count" the miles, but only by time and not on a measured course. I figure in the end my slow days balance my fast days and it all evens out.
What is most important is that I stopped listening and comparing myself to other runners and their mileage. I stopped thinking that I was less of a runner for running fewer miles. Luckily since moving to Vancouver my coach does not push me to run huge mileage and I am still reluctant to measure my miles.
So why is everyone obsessed with mileage? Is it a measure of cock size? Is it the distance runners version of a flashy car or a big shiny truck? Some runners benefit from high mileage, it makes them stronger and enables them to run fast times and compete at an international level. Some runners just love the high of running and are out there for the pure joy of the experience. Some runners will tell you their mileage within five minutes of "hello, it is nice to meet you." They will outline every laborious and minute detail of the hundreds of miles they are running and then will ask "how many miles do you run?" (or what I now imagine "my cock turns out to be approx. 8 cm but by telling you I run a lot you will think it is 16 cm, how big is your cock?")
My response is "I don't count my miles" and I have never had a complaint!