Join the Club

So, I admit it.  I jog.

I know this information will likely tarnish the image that I have so carefully cultivated with many of you, but I need to go jogging just to keep up with the other players on my basketball team, and I need to confess it now in order to comment on a phenomenon that is making me a little crazy.

The reason that I rarely admit to my jogging is that other people who jog or run, the people who self-identify as runners or joggers, always seem to assume that I must be as passionate about this activity as they are.  “What shoes do you wear?” they ask.  “What club do you belong to?” they demand.  “What distance are you training for?” they want to know.  “What are your best times?” they query.  They are always disappointed and then dismissive when I tell them that I wear an old pair of basketball hightops, that I try to avoid belonging to clubs of any kind, and that I never keep track of how far or how fast I go.  I jog, they soon realize, but I am not a jogger, not really.  What I do and what real joggers do might casually be called by the same name, but I have not actually joined the club.

This kind of behaviour, and it is by no means restricted to joggers, always annoys me.  It is yet one more example of how much people are generally interested in the signs of the thing rather than the thing itself.  They are more interested in owning the right accessories and in belonging to the right clubs and in achieving the right goals than they are with just doing whatever it is that needs to be done.  They are more interested in being called something than in actually doing something.  Even when they are doing the thing as well, they are really more interested in making sure that they look the part so that everyone will know them for what they are.

I run into this everywhere.  I know countless people who want very much to be writers but who are not so very interested in doing any writing.  I know others who want to be musicians or artists or philosophers or whatever.  They cultivate the right look and the right talk and the right friends, but they seldom spend much time doing what they say they want to be.  They just want to be part of the club.

Well, in jogging as in everything else, I want to do the thing rather than merely to join a club.  I will not likely ever wear the right shoes or run with the right people or achieve the right times.  I will just jog, whenever and however I feel like it.  The real joggers are welcome to the rest of it.

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7 comments
  1. Lauren said:

    Don’t let the real “runners” catch you referring to them as “joggers”. They’ll kick you with their $200 shoes. 🙂

    Can’t you have it both ways sometimes? Isn’t wanting to be part of the club a perfectly natural thing to want? I mean, we all want to belong to something, don’t we? I get your frustration at people who would, say, continually whine about not “making it” as a painter/musician/writer but who would do very little to actually achieve those goals, but you seem equally critical of people who might just see the value of the “togetherness” aspect of a pastime, and the various trappings that might go along with that.

    Being a part of a community of like-minded people doesn’t necessarily make you a hack or a sell-out, does it? Or are you suggesting we implement some sort of minimum participation requirement, or a preferred ratio of enjoyment : accessory purchasing/jargon use for all the various pastimes that are out there? How many cookies do I have to bake before I can buy a new mixer or earn 10 minutes of talking about baking cookies?

    (Note: I am willing to bake as many cookies as it takes. Mmmmmm cookies …)

  2. Lauren,

    Let me say first that I support you in your cookie making, no matter how many you feel that you need to make. I will even offer to help eat said cookies if you make too many.

    More seriously, you are right to draw attention to the ways that positive communities can form around certain activities, and I would by no means criticize those instances where people truly gather to know each other through their shared interests. However, I am always wary of how these communities turn into clubs, where their purposes becomes less about knowing and loving one another and more about achieving and maintaining a certain status.

    So, I would say, by all means bake cookies, and by all means bake cookies with others as a way to know each other and build community with each other, but never make your cookie baking into a club that requires people to bake a certain number of cookies, or to have the right cookie baking equipment, or to work from the right cookbooks. This is not community building. This is being part of a club. It is less about baking cookies and more about being able to call yourself a baker.

  3. John Jantunen said:

    I too was a jogger, though I never framed it in this way. Most often I just said, I like to run. I did it three, sometimes four times a week, and I too never kept track of how far I ran. I ran in a circle, anyone that was availale (The Stanley Park seawall was my favourite) and if I wasn’t tired by the end of the circle I ran it again. My preferred time to run was around nine at night when there was a pretty good chance that the only people I would encounter were the sorts of people that would make me want to run faster. It never occurred to me to join a club of runners. Some evenings I would see these hapless bands, most often middle aged woman, and I did, I admit, get a certain satisfaction from hearing them curse as I sped past, my huffs and puffs somewhat less life threatening than theirs. It has been years since I have indulged in this passion, the last time I did I lasted about ten minutes before a pain in my right knee made a very convincing argument for limiting my outdoor exerertions to my bike, but I often think about it. Mostly what I think about is how I never felt more certain of who I was than when when I was out for a run and the idea that I could, or would want to, share this feeling with anyone made about as much sense as filling my shoes with broken glass.

  4. 1. You should use this the next time you speak in church.

    2. The next time you tell someone you jog and they react like this, ask them when where and with whom they jog, invite yourself along, then show up in a v-neck t-shirt, short-shorts, and wrist bands, and a freshly shaved handle bar moustache- I guarantee you, joggers will never bug you again!.

    3. If you don’t do this at least once, this is the criteria for my losing respect for you, Luke, not doing this, I said it, step two must be executed.

  5. [when preaching, use this with the parable of the fig tree]

  6. d said:

    You play basketball? That rules. I play a little too, but I’m not on a team. What a wonderful sport!

  7. d,

    Well, I started out playing football because I was big, but I never really liked it. Then I started playing rugby, which is still my favourite sport, but there are relatively few opportunities to play pick-up rugby now that I am out of school. So I started playing basketball, just to keep in shape, and I love it, even if everyone is faster than me.

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