A Layman's Complete Guide To Running

This is my last official post as a PolicyMic intern. Before the internship, my only professional writing experience dealt with running. Being a semi-professional runner for the past three years, it made sense that the sport would be my area of expertise. Writing for PolicyMic, however, I steered clear of the running world for most of my pieces, solely so that I wouldn't be typecast as a running writer.

I do, however, enjoy the sport more than most. What I found, though, was that not writing about running left me with a lot left to say. So, for a word vomit of my thoughts on running, continue reading. You may learn a thing or two about runners. 

In question and answer form, here are some running-related topics that you may be dying to learn about:

Why are your shorts so short?

Running shorts are one of the most perplexing issues for most people who don't run. They are extremely short, and we show off a lot of thigh. When the Fab Five changed the rules of basketball with their long, baggy shorts, the trend didn't spill over into running. And the reason for this is simple: it is harder to run with long shorts on.

But not all running shorts are short shorts. Here's a graph that explains the running shorts worn by a runner based on age:


"Embarrassingly Short Phase" (Age: 12-15): Here, the runner wants long shorts. I mean basketball long. When we first start wearing our team shorts in 7th grade, we are mortified by their length, or lack thereof. We clamor for the larges that end up sagging halfway down our butts, but at least they hide our skinny quads.

"Irrationally Confident With our Skinny Legs and Screw Football Bullies Phase" (Age: 16-22): And this is the longest phase by far. For some, it lasts all the way through college. While some kids may become "different" by going goth or vampire, runners decide to shorten their inseam. This is often the time when runner’s develop a rift with football players (or lacrosse for east coast kids at private schools). They call the runners derogatory terms and the runners respond with even shorter shorts to goad the bullies on. It is fairly unhealthy, but it continues on.

"Meh, I’ll Just Wear What Works Phase" (Age: 23-death): Here, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You get to the age where you really don’t care what you’re wearing and wear whatever running shorts you have ... especially if you’re not raking in the dollar bills, then you just wear shorts from the previous two phases, because you've saved them throughout the years.

And then there’s half tights. And I've never been a really big half tights fan. They’re just a little constricting for me. However, pretty much every fast sprinter up to middle distance runner in the world wears them from time to time. Plus, they can be pretty bad-ass.

Do you really need to use these funky machines?

These machines?


Short answer: no. They look ridiculous.

How annoying is it to hear, "Run, Forrest, run!"?

This is one of those yells runners hear all the time out on the roads. The thing is, "Run, Forrest, run!" can be one of the tamer things you're called. So if you want to yell at runners when they run by, please stick with "Run, Forrest, run!" We are well equipped to handle that.

Are there any cool track and field video games?


The Power Pad for the Nintendo was the greatest game ever. It was all about shuffling your feet up and down as quickly as possible. You could even cheat by pounding your fists left-right as quickly as possible as well.

Recently, Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games was fantastic. All you did was pump the Wii controllers up and down as hard and fast as you could. It was exhausting, but exhilarating.

Are runners real athletes?

Ummm, does this answer your question?


I'm a runner, and this is probably my most athletic moment.

Also, this entire piece was just an excuse to post that YouTube video on PolicyMic. Thank you for your time.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Liam Boylan-Pett

Liam is a culture writing intern at PolicyMic. His work has appeared in "Running Times" and other running publications. He is also a professional middle-distance runner for the New Jersey-New York Track Club. After graduating from Columbia University with his bachelor's degree, he earned a Master's of Professional Studies in Journalism from Georgetown University. Originally from Bath, Mich, he spends his time watching TV, reading longform journalism, and thinking about who is going to be in the NCAA basketball tournament's Final Four.

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