Barriers and Elitism in the Running Community

The running community has made great strides in recent years to conquer beliefs that it is mired in elitism. That revolution is having an impact thanks to social media influencers such as:

But there is still an elitist culture that rears it's ugly head at times and makes us enlightened beings all cringe at the arrogance and condescension.

After beginning to incorporate some very short distance running (usually it just 1 to 2 mile walk/run intervals) into my health and fitness regimen in 2021 with mixed results (I completed a 5k walk/run event but ended it with injuries - shin splints and patella tendonitis). I was encouraged by a friend to apply to participate in this program in 2022:

I figured it was an interesting concept so I clicked on the application link. 

The application took about 20 mins but a few things struck me as odd:

  • Very little detail was given about what exactly the program would involve.
  • Potential participants had to attest to their ability to be available on several specific dates this Spring/Summer and then wait to find out 2 months later if they are accepted into the program!!!! So what???? I just block out those dates on my calendar and wait to see if I am deemed worthy 2 months later! That's rude, presumptive, arrogant etc. 
  • 9th of July was listed as 5K day all participants must enter in to that specific 5km event. ONLY after lodging the application did I find out that I wouldn't know if I was accepted until around April 25th, 2022. I was officially notified today April 22, 2022 that I wasn't a successful applicant. That is only 12 weeks until the MUST DO 5k day!!!??? WT actual F. The website states the program is for beginners, yes BEGINNERS so expecting every participant to be ready for the 5km with ONLY 12 weeks training doesn't allow for diversity of abilities, health and training preferences within the training program. I can tell you I trained longer than 12 weeks last year, before my 5k and still ended up injured.
I also found it unsettling that totally unnecessarily personal questions were asked during the application process, that definitely should have been left until they had chosen participants, here are a few examples:

  • Address (I can understand wanting to know basic geographical location such as suburb but actual address is overkill at this point in the process)
  • Clothing sizes (top and bottom)
  • Bra cup and band size 
  • Shoe size
  • Gender identity 
  • Age
  • Race
  • Relationship status
  • Education level 
  • Income
  • Employment status
  • Number of children
  • Emergency contact info
So you can see this was an overly invasive process that wreaks of power. A two stage selection process would prevent this invasion of privacy in the initial stages. These people seem to presume themselves to be in a position of power to determine the worth of someone, like as if we were applying for a paid job when in fact we were the ones expected to pay $$$ for their program.

In addition, virtually nothing is said on the website about their selection criteria – this further wastes the valuable time of potential participants. They clearly have a selection criterion that was used to decide who was accepted to the program in 2022. If that is an explicit document key points should be shared on the website so potential candidates don’t waste their time. If it is not an explicit document, then one should be drafted.

So I should've just gone with my gut and avoided this organization like the plague! This is why people like me "go it alone" with some things. In this day and age when all the helpful info is available FREE via multiple organizations and webpages why would you subject yourself to this kind of scrutiny, rejection, judgement??

So here are some FREE resource links if you would like some actual support in your beginning runner journey!

8 Week Running Plan (note I recommend taking as long as you want to move on with phases, you don't have to do it in 8 weeks!) (I'm new to this but it seems AWESOME)

TIP: Don't be overwhelmed! You just have to start somewhere and build up your knowledge, skills, strength slowly and steadily.

Running doesn't have to be your thing! You might prefer cycling or yoga or walking or whatever physical activity you enjoy spending time doing. But do it at your pace with care and respect for your body and health. 

Note: a follow up blog post dated April 23

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