Are "masters" runners ruining the sport?

davemunger Posts: 1,139 Member
Great article:

"Unless you were formerly or are currently an Olympian or at least a world class runner, you didn’t or aren’t experiencing anything other than manufactured levels of competition. Nothing 'real' about it that isn’t real on any other level. That’s right. If you ran youth, high school, college, state, conference, association, or even national competitions, they’re all just arbitrary, made-up levels—just like masters and age group competition. If you aren’t the best, you’re just one of the rest, no matter whether you’re winning State (one of 50 states) in high school or crossing the line first in a USATF Masters National Marathon Championship.

"Here’s the secret that masters runners know: 'Real competition' isn’t a time or an age or a specific level of competition. It’s competition, plain and simple. Sometimes it’s training with a great group of teammates and working toward a common goal—a high school league championship, a college conference title, or a masters national cross country victory. Sometimes it’s you against the clock, against a time you’ve run or a goal you’ve set for yourself. Sometimes it’s just you and an old rival going at it in the local 5K. Real competition is something different to every person—and no one has any more right to define what that is for someone else, and then judge others based upon that definition, than they have the right to tell you what films to like, what books to read, what trails to hike, or what songs to sing in the shower."


  • prdavies1949
    prdavies1949 Posts: 326 Member
    Thanks for this Dave, I suppose I can count myself a "master" as I am 65 years young. I now run, I now race, I am never going to win any prize. But I am over the moon that I can run and no one is going to stop me or put me down. My victories come not by beating others, but by improving my own times and distances. In Eighteen months I have gone from couch potato to running halves. My time has gone from 2:29 to 2:02 in a year. One day I WILL get sub 2. Oh and I dream about finding the right race, with only 3 or less 65+ runners, so that I place in my age category. Then I'll be back on your results thread so fast.
  • RunnerInVT
    RunnerInVT Posts: 226 Member
    I love this! To me, it's about the journey. Long may we run. :)
  • Ke22yB
    Ke22yB Posts: 969 Member
    People ask me why do you run at "your age" There are many answers but probably the most truthful is because now I can and when I was younger and weighed over 350 pounds I couldn't.
    My last 10K with our runners club was fairly competitive and I finished dead last by almost a full block but it was a major win for me since it was a PR over 3 minutes faster than the one I ran 5 months before.
    I am 66 and hope to be running for many more years as I lose the last 20 pounds on my journey to 200 pounds lost. My health is greatly improved , my Dr. is in awe my BP and pulse and VO2 are off the charts for an "old man " so for me its a win every day
  • DonPendergraft
    DonPendergraft Posts: 520 Member
    As an oldster, I liked this article. :)
  • Stoshew71
    Stoshew71 Posts: 6,553 Member
    Thanks Dave!
  • DavidMartinez2
    DavidMartinez2 Posts: 840 Member
    I stopped reading once I realized he was responding to people from LetsRun forums. If I wanted un-informed troll bait I would read the general forums here. I have never heard anyone in real life express anything remotely like what he said in his blog.
  • likitisplit
    likitisplit Posts: 9,420 Member
    It's good to know that, out of all the ways I'm an embarrassment to the sport, being 42 isn't one of them.

    However, I get why he wrote the article, regardless of who he was responding to.

    I have an inner voice that goes something like this:
    You are 42
    You are an older female
    Even if you started running at 16, you'd still be slow
    Your 5k pace is just under 11 minutes a mile and you know what? It doesn't matter
    Nobody cares
    You could drop 5 minutes in your next 5k and you would still be mid-pack
    Whether you run or not, it doesn't really make any difference in the world
    Why do you even bother?

    Articles like this help me realize I'm not alone in being old and slow and help me re-find the meaning in my running.

    As The Oatmeal said (and as I had printed on my Road Id): this is better than the WHY. #JFR
  • davemunger
    davemunger Posts: 1,139 Member
    I stopped reading once I realized he was responding to people from LetsRun forums. If I wanted un-informed troll bait I would read the general forums here. I have never heard anyone in real life express anything remotely like what he said in his blog.

    I have -- not to me, but parents of friends who were competitive runners in HS / college often seem to question why their sons and daughters continue to compete when they "can't possibly win."

    In my case, I am better as a master than I ever was in HS or college. But even if that wasn't the case I say "keep on running!"
  • DavidMartinez2
    DavidMartinez2 Posts: 840 Member
    That wasn't the group he had issue with. I usually like his column in Running Times but this stikes me as whiney and petty. Also, this:
  • vmclach
    vmclach Posts: 670 Member
    I stopped reading once I realized he was responding to people from LetsRun forums. If I wanted un-informed troll bait I would read the general forums here. I have never heard anyone in real life express anything remotely like what he said in his blog.

    Lolz.. Letsrun is a very friend place for runners of all abilities.. Oh wait..

    "Since when is running a sub 3 hour marathon something to brag about"
  • sarahc001
    sarahc001 Posts: 477 Member
    Meghan Arbogast, F53, top 10 western states, bandera 100k winner, 2012 olympic trials marathon qualifier. Damn masters runners...
  • rabblerabble
    rabblerabble Posts: 471 Member
    I'm 53 and until a couple of years ago, I hadn't run a continuous mile in about 30 years and couldn't run 100 yards without being completely gassed.

    Spent a year in the gym where my cardio days consisted of treadmill intervals (running no more than a minute or two between the walking breaks) and started a C25K program this last winter.

    Now running outside 4 to 5 times a week and completed a half marathon a few weeks ago (time was a modest 2:26) and have my sights set on another half in October.

    I'm not out to beat anyone else. I could finish dead last in October (will be a significantly smaller field than the one in July) but if I significantly improve on my last time I'll be pleased. Most importantly I want to continue to improve my physical condition and frankly I very much love being outside running, getting fresh air, and while I'm running, all of life's problems go away during that time and I feel free.
  • suetorrence
    suetorrence Posts: 163 Member
    I am 66 and did not start running until last December when I enrolled in a C25K class at our local Fleet Feet store. Everyone in the class was so supportive and encouraging.....despite my slowness.....that I was not embarrassed to continue running. At the end of the class I ran my first 5K. Since then I have completed a 5 mile race, a 12K trail race and a half marathon. I am currently training for my second half marathon. I am still a slow runner but the enjoyment I get from being outside - yes, even in the winter wearing my yak trax - is beyond description. I thank those much younger and faster than I who have continued to encourage this senior female runner.
  • jturnerx
    jturnerx Posts: 325 Member
    Anyone hanging around Letsrun is just asking to have their buttons pushed.
  • MelisRunning
    MelisRunning Posts: 819 Member
    I'm 52. When I started running, I was already in the Master's Division. Haven't known anything different. I work hard. Do the best I can. If they don't like it, that's their problem, not mine.
  • Muzica1959
    Muzica1959 Posts: 206 Member
    I just started in this sport they call "Running". I have no visions of grandeur of winning races and getting trophies. That isn't what I am in this for. However, I am THE BEST! I may not be the best in a race, as I have yet to run one, but I am THE BEST I can be and getting better all the time. I fell in love with running just a couple of weeks ago at the age of 54. I wish I had found this way way earlier in my life bit I found it NOW and now is when I am going to dance with it, romance it and become one with it. I know there are many much faster runners as I run like a crippled turtle in molasses but there are no runners that love it any more than I do.

    The one thing I have found out as well is that everyone, at least here on MFP, is so supportive. The runners at the track all smile and say hello. The runners here at MFP answer my questions without sarcasm but with truth and honesty....and concern. You all cheer me on. You make sure I know the do's and don's to try to prevent me from injury. It feels like a family, of sorts, to me. I'm sure there are some out there that have their egos in the forefront. Those I will just take with a grain of salt ...and keep on running.
  • pobalita
    pobalita Posts: 741 Member
    I only run because I like to run. It makes me happy. Don't care if I never was or will be the best. When I go into my garage at the end of the day and look at my wall with my bibs and finishers medals, I smile at the good memories of the races instead of consider them as "the ones I lost".

    Besides...if I only did things I thought I'd be the best at, I would have never done anything at all.
  • Cooriander
    Cooriander Posts: 2,848 Member
    Good find, I get more productive when I run, so I 'extend' my day. :bigsmile: :heart:
  • prdavies1949
    prdavies1949 Posts: 326 Member
    As I understand you become a "master" when you turn 40. Well last night an over 40 won the gold medal in the European championships 10k beating a 23 year old into silver. Well done Jo Pavey.
  • Samstan101
    Samstan101 Posts: 699 Member
    I run, I enter races, I've come last in a race and my best ever position was 2 above the middle. I race against my times 99.9% of the time I run and not against other runners. I did run one league meet for my club and did out sprint someone at the finish and enjoyed that small element of competition but if I was only running to win then I'd be one very disappointed runner. I want to be the best I can be and am lucky that in my club there is healthy competition to push everyone to be the best they can be. I'm about the slowest in the club but they know I've lost almost 9st since starting all this last year, they know I have another 25lbs+ to go, they know I don't quit and will give my all both in training and in races. They tell me I'm an inspiration, they support me, help me and push me on. The camaradarie in running is not something I expected and is fabulous. Who cares about winning and being the best of everyone - I want to be the best I can be and if I can do that then I win regardless of run time or race position.