Welcome to one of the most social times of the year. Even those of us who live in dark holes get invited to parties and gatherings hosted by family and friends. And every once in a while, it’s good to brush up on etiquette.
I say this for myself. I will be around plenty of non-triathletes and non-runners over the next few weeks. And frankly, I have to remember that what is appropriate (or tolerated) behavior around my endurance friends may not play out so well in other circles.
Perhaps you, too, can benefit from my own personal survival guide for holiday social interactions:
1. Avoid snot rockets and blowing my nose in my hand. Gross? Well, yes, but my nose tends to get stuffy when I run, particularly in the cold, and the fastest, easiest way to deal with it is to blow the snot out any way I can. Pulling over to spit helps, too. The thing is, this kind of behavior is frowned upon in general society. So note to self: No matter how cold it is and how stuffy my nose is, I will not blow a snot rocket in the church parking lot.
2. In keeping with the bodily function theme, few people find my story about peeing in my wetsuit before Muskoka 70.3 entertaining and amusing. Granted, it is an entertaining and amusing story, but told to the wrong people, it just produces that deer-caught-in-headlights look and causes the listener to slowly back away. Knowing this, it can be a useful story to get out of some unwanted conversations.
3. Avoid talking about eating habits. Nutrition to most people means what they eat every day, not what kind of gels, bars and chews they consume during a long-distance event. In general, it’s best to avoid the whole topic of food (unless of course specifically asked. If you just ignore the question, the person may go away but you could find yourself sitting in the office of an auditory specialist). For many of us endurance athletes, December is the off-season anyway. However for me, training for the Miami half marathon means I’m very much in-season. With my workout load and my hunger patterns, it’s important for me to eat every two to three hours. However, when you say this out loud to some people, the deer face comes back out. Sometimes the reaction is a jealous eye roll. So instead of trying to explain, I will try to discreetly unwrap the Luna bar tucked in my purse. This was packed in an amazing act of foresight that dinner would be late and I would be so hungry I would start telling the peeing in the wetsuit story.
4. I will be excited about any gear that Santa brings me. My enthusiasm will be difficult to explain andthose around me will just have to go with it. Who questions joy anyway? Certainly not the adorable little girl with her Grandpa pictured at the right!
5. Remember that everything is relative. Sitting around with my endurance friends can make me feel as if I’m the slowest person to ever attempt a race. But if I start to whine about running a 10-minute mile in front of non-runners, two things happen: 1. They have no idea how fast or slow a 10-minute mile is and 2. They inevitably don’t care as they marvel at the fact that I run any distance in any time at all. Yes, if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “26.2 miles? I don’t even like to drive that far!” I could buy a very large, very fancy drink at Starbucks. But the sentiment in the cliche is worth remembering in the spirit of Christmas — whatever you do is worthwhile simply because it is important to you and you give it your attention and your passion.