I've found that the amount of exercise I do is perceived in different ways depending on the person I'm talking to.
People who are moderately serious runners, former college athletes, and the like usually shrug after I tell them I "only average around 40-45 miles or so a week" and tell me I should train harder.
On the flip side, a large portion of people look like I am A SUPER FREAK when hearing this mileage figure that I see as being very moderate. Because of this, I generally tend to avoid talking much about my running in detail with most people. Luckily for them, most non-runners don't give a shit about my 5 mile tempo run, so my avoidance of discussing this part of my life is really keeping them from dying of boredom as well. Win-win!
I mean...I kind of get it...like when I was in middle school and we had to run the mile it was about the worst experience ever. So if someone had told me they ran by choice on a daily basis, I would have thought they needed a mental exam. But at this point....easy 5 mile runs are about as easy as walking down the street. It's just a way to clear my head and get some fresh air.
There are a few times, however, when my policy of "non-running discussion" is not an option. One of them is when I visit my boyfriend's family mid-marathon training and I try to sneak out of the house before his sweet mom pounces on me to make me a bacon and eggs breakfast. (don't try to do a long run after this, you will regret it the entire time!).
The second time is when I'm on vacation. I know I may be in the minority on this, but I really enjoy running when on vacation. Not workouts, but slow 40 minute jaunts as long as the schedule permits. If it can't happen, it can't happen, but as long as there's a safe stretch of road and some time, I figure why not.
Like this last weekend, I went on a quick vacation. I went to Vegas for a bachelorette party! It was good times!
And for both of the mornings...even after heavy boozing....I got up and went on a run.
When people on a group vacation who don't know you very well realize you are running the mornings in a place like Vegas, they become perplexed and give you the super-freak look. It brings forth comments like "Oh wow, you'll really earn this buffet!", "You know I ran a half-marathon once", "Wow good for you...SO healthy", "You don't need to lose weight" and "Maybe I'll go on a run later..I DID bring my workout gear...".
All well-meaning comments. But I never know what to say in response! There are a number of reasons why I went on a runs in Vegas and it has very little to do with health or being virtuous. It's just something I do, just like getting dressed, eating meals, and going to the grocery store. The questions and comments make me a little uncomfortable because I don't think I deserve any compliments for going on a short slow run, and frankly it's slightly addictive behavior on my part. And I am certainly not trying to make anyone else bad for not exercising. So I tried to think of why I enjoy running on vacation:
1) I'm obsessive about patterns and routines as shit and so doing a daily run helps me feel normal and not freak out about other things. This is the main one. I admit it.
2) It's kind of fun to get a little time to myself in the mornings because I get overwhelmed in large social groups.
3) Why not? We got hella free time!
4) I've got some dope music on my ipod I want to listen to.
5) People watching, people watching, people watching.
and secret option 6) It's a nice day out and I like to run!
So unless the weather is bad, I usually just go with option 6 as my explanation. Unless the person is a psychiatrist and I'm in a chair, it's probably the best response.
I guess there's no end in sight to the "Super Freak Vacation Runner" looks, unless I manage to sneak out of hotel rooms at 3 AM and slip back into bed, sight unseen. I figure this pattern will just continue. I'll keep running when I can in random places, people around me will continue to comment on the fact that it's surprising that I'm running, and I'll continue to feel slightly like a freak when I try to explain why I went on a run.
I suppose worse things could happen :).