So, here’s the thing — I know social media is the greatest and easiest soap box there is. You can incite controversy. Preach to the choir. Point out the obvious. Rage against whatever you want. But one thing I’ve noticed, probably because I’m attuned to it is the radical dislike of people who A) choose to partake in training and running for marathons and B) fundraise while doing so.
Full disclosure: This year I’m running the Boston Marathon for the Brookline Community Health Center. I’m running in memory of my mother. And I’m running for a few reasons. The first is I miss her every day. This will be the 9th anniversary of her death in February. Starting about now every year is when I start to feel that loss a little more. For those grieving, seeking help works. I’m also raising money for people who are not grieving but may have other things they need to sort out, trouble at home, addiction, something they just need to work out, depression, whatever it may be. My mother was a big advocate of seeking help and guidance and often thought it would benefit anyone who sought help and was honest about it, me included. If before you get to my take you’d like to support me, please click this link — your contribution is appreciated:
Anyway — here’s my two cents on it. Before I get going know that whatever your opinion is, you are right but I’d ask that you evaluate people on an individual level and not in aggregate.
The issue with people training for marathons seems to be manifold. The first is that it’s annoying. You’re right. It completely is annoying seeing people constantly tout whatever run they just did. I was, and still am to a degree, one of the offenders. However, putting things out in public is a great motivator. It’s a way of making something a person once thought impossible real. Putting it out there for scrutiny is proof and a way for someone to look back and know they did that and can do it again. For most at least. Many are just shameless and want attention in the ‘look at me, like this’ category. But I believe most need that validation — for themselves. They’ll get over the constant posting…eventually.
Secondly, it’s selfish. You’re right again. Exercise or any aspect of self improvement is selfish. It should be. Whether you’re running, joining gym, pursuing an advanced degree, taking a cooking class, learning a skill you have a desire to know — all of this is selfish. You should be doing it for yourself. If you’re not, who are you doing it for and why? If because of this self improvement other people in your life benefit, too — that’s great. Again, I think some people have other motivation and may be dubious about why they are doing something — but be the judge for yourself.
Now to the fundraising part. It seems much of the issue is “you’re going to do this anyway, why should I give you money”. And you’re right again. You shouldn’t just because someone decides to do something and then they ask you. I suggest first seeing the cause the person is running for, if it fits with that person, and why they chose to put themselves out there and essentially beg friends, relations, acquaintances, and strangers for money. You should not just donate money to a charity because someone asks you. If that were the case, the thousands of people that harass you on sidewalks for the cause of the day, that cause of the day would be rolling in dough. But if it’s someone you know and they are asking, know that you are not giving them money – they will not get any out of it, but something that they care about will.
For me, I’m going to keep being selfish and running as long as I still find it challenging and rewarding. And I’ll do it no matter one individual’s opinion. However, here’s what I can say — I’ve run just to run and I’ve helped raise money for charities and I’d rather run and fundraise than just run. Because you’re right, I’m going to do it anyway but I would rather do some good along the way. The running is the easy part. Anyone who is capable can plod along. But tying yourself to a cause and consistently trying to improve their situation. That one’s hard.
I hope I didn’t incite much controversy, preach to the choir, or rage too much.