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Miles and Smiles August 16, 2007

Posted by Joe in thoughts.
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People online have been batting around a question runners often get that goes something like, “If you like running so much, why don’t you smile when doing it?” This is actually a take on an old Joan Rivers joke. Runners do take the time to answer the question, and rather well, but I have not yet come across someone giving the answer I find the most helpful to a non-runner. So here is my take.

There are things in life that are easy, and produce easy smiles; theatrical comedies, a friend’s joke, watching your child do something for the first time, or perform well. These are good things, and can be important. But there are other things in life that are more complex, require greater concentration or effort, and can yield a more profound sense of joy and satisfaction. These things are not often accompanied by constant grinning.

For example, the woman who sculpts or paints is made for such work, and it is one of her greatest joys. Yet she is not likely to be smiling throughout the hours of her work. Or consider the songwriter penning melodies and lyrics, the craftsman building a bookcase, or even a husband and wife making love! These are things men and women claim they love doing, and while smiles may punctuate moments during these actions, the concentration, effort, or just our complete involvement in them is likely to postpone the smiles until we have finished exerting ourselves. There is joy to be experienced during the process, though it is more likely to manifest itself when we have time to appreciate all we have just done.

Why don’t I smile when I’m running? Because running is not an easy thing. The best things in life seldom are. But if you want to see my runner’s smile, meet me at the end of my run. That is when you are likely to see me with a goofy grin on my face.

And by the way, Joan Rivers seems to have figured it out for herself; she is now a runner.

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Comments»

1. Brian - August 16, 2007

I myself have seen many runners try to tackle this very same question from non-runners. And everytime I would wonder, why bother with an answer?

You described it perfectly. You don’t see a boxer smiling while boxing. A baseball player smiling when batting or catching. A swimmer while swimming. A soccer player chasing a ball down. Or something more simplistic. I love reading. Am I going to be smiling the whole time I am reading?

No, as you said, the smiles in all these activities and all activities happen after the exertion or effort is accomplished. Because of this I have read this “Why don’t runners smile while running” and always roll my eyes. If other sports have athletes smiling while exerting, then good question. But since no other sport does this, why would it be a legitimate question for running?

Good answer. If I were to be asked this question would have been my response.

2. Diana - August 17, 2007

Well put. I haven’t heard/read an explanation that I could agree more with until now. Nice post!

3. vaeloran - April 21, 2009

I have a question:
What makes you smile?, and i don’t mean laughs or jokes, i mean REALLY smile, that holds on your entire face and never let’s go, even if you want to remove that big smile, you can’t.
How often do you have that kind of smile, per week, per day, or per hour; the smile that starts when you see someone you love, you smile at that someone and that somenone returns your’ smile?,
the Smile that can change a lot of things in your life, the smile that is in fact a mask of your feelings, a code that you will give , like a gift, to someone and who will return it because he understands that code and wants you to know that.


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