By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey
If you have ever visited Vancouver or live in this west coast Canadian city, you will know that Vancouver is a city of runners. Head out to the iconic Stanley Park Seawall on any day and you will see a vast array of active people. Vancouver is host to the Bank of Montreal sponsored marathon on the first Sunday in May each year. I am running this marathon for the 10th time this year and in my training, covered a lot of geography while putting in the miles. I live on the North Shore which is a mountain biking and trail running mecca, and in my bipedal road journey through North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Vancouver proper I started to notice that runners could be grouped into certain categories. On your next venture out on foot, see if you can recognize any of these:
The veteran: usually a small, wiry man with short grey hair wearing his 1983 Boston Marathon cotton singlet. The singlet is usually paired with shorts, mid-calf socks and fairly basic running shoes. Nothing too technical for this runner; he keeps it old school with just his watch.
The new parent: this could be mom or dad but the obvious marker for this runner is the occupied baby jogger. The proficiency of the runner will be dependent on the weight and age of the infant. The total newbies will be struggling to keep the jogger tracking straight and might also be jiggling the handle to settle the crying; the ones who have been doing it for a few months are a little smoother and less likely to need sudden defensive maneuvers when encountering other people.
The couple: this pairing can be quite comical to observe and overhear. Usually one of the pair has infused his/her love of running on the partner and the partner can be at various stages of investment in this joint activity. The original runner in the couple is cruising along and entertaining the partner with an endless stream of stories while the new to running runner is breathing hard and sweating profusely trying to keep up. If this running pair has been running together for a while, the chatter is still there but it is more a shared conversation versus a one way verbal delivery. Everything from social activities to the grocery list can be overheard.
The new to running: identifiable by very clean shoes, hydration waist pack and running jacket tied around the waist. Often seen doing a run/walk routine taught at a recent clinic.
The “pretty” runner: without imposing judgment, this is usually a 20s to 30s female. The running outfit matches and can still be seen in the popular shops meaning it is from this season. The hair is usually long and if pulled back, the pony tail is nicely groomed. Very little sweating is happening but credit to this person, she is not on the couch. She is out, moving forward and being active.
The trail runner: this runner is usually identifiable by the hydration pack, really strong quads and dirty shoes. The hydration pack is stuffed with a light rain coat, as well as bars and gels for any unplanned exploration of new terrain that could extend the 2 hour run to 4 or more hours. If seen on the Seawall or streets, it is only because he/she was in the process of going from one trail to the next and this bit of road was a necessary inconvenience. Often you hear them coming as trail shoes have a more aggressive tread and make a different noise on the pavement. These runners also fly along on the road because there are no rocks, roots and uneven ground to slow them down.
The die-hard: this person is out there, usually at the same time of day and regardless of weather. He/she has a routine and nothing gets in the way. They have all the right gear and run year-round. The uber competitive: this is the runner that speeds up as you get close so as to not let you get in front of them. If you do happen to get in front, you won’t stay there long as your competitor will suck back a gel or find some energy to retake “first place”
The average runner: so, this is the rest of us. We throw on whatever is clean (usually hanging in the laundry room) or cleanest and after a quick check on the weather app head out the door for a pre-determined time or distance. Sometimes solo, other times in a group but really, no specific identifiers for this group.
I put myself in the average category with a bit of die-hard and competitiveness thrown in so will run with a Hammer gel at the ready in case a fuel top up is needed for maintaining speed or covering the planned distance. Regardless of where you might fit into these categories, celebrate that you are out there living an active lifestyle. Vancouver offers mild winter temperatures and comfortable summers so there are very few excuses for not getting outside and moving. The next sunny day, head to the Seawall and see how many of these running creatures you can spot!