Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Before we begin, Imma tell you that hell yes, I read gossip every day. I am not ashamed of this. The things we talk about, the things we find interesting, the things we find SCANDALOUS tell us a lot about ourselves. The lens through which we view and judge beautiful strangers is the same lens we use to judge ourselves. My tongue is not in my cheek when I tell you that gossip is history in the making. After all, what is Catherine the Great known for? What countries did she conquer? What was her favorite animal?
Don't lie. You only know the answer to one of those questions. Gossip is the only lasting legacy for most humans, and we no longer live in a time where the present can be hidden much less easily manipulated.
The Gossip Lens decides who is a useless junkie who wasted her talent and who is a tortured genius. It decides which wives are controlling PITAs, and which are saints for staying married to alcoholics who disappear for days on end. (That story shifted abruptly over the course of two years, no?)
"Make Brad Pitt Great Again" might be the most interesting marketing campaign of 2017. Or the most pathetic. Most of it makes me sick because it perpetuates the stigma of rehab. As if any of us thought he was sober on that airplane. Uh huh. You don't even read gossip, but you know about The Airplane. You probably also know the words to Hit Me Baby One More Time and what Britney was wearing in the video. You are a product of your environment, it's inescapable. Taking a little time to objectively study your environment each day is hardly a waste of time.
I have said before that we are all the Stars of an ongoing narrative in our minds. We also write narratives about other people. It's so ingrained we don't even realize we are doing it. The narratives we write about other people tell us almost as much about ourselves as the narratives we write about our own selves. Once written, these narratives rarely change. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Angelina Jolie is one of the most famous women in the world and her relationship with Brad Pitt was thoroughly documented from day 1. Then it ended abruptly and the narrative turned into a he-said with very limited she-said. She says she is protecting the children. He says she won't let him see the children. He says she didn't want counseling. He says he wants to fix it and is destroyed that she won't allow it. He says she is mean and calculating and split in the middle of the night, oh my God she had it PLANNED FOR MONTHS.
If you think of Angelina as a homewrecker, then you love this narrative about Brad Pitt's Feelings. It fits right in with your existing narrative about Angelina, the Calculating Vixen. And we never have to talk about what Brad Pitt Did or How Long Brad Pitt Had Been Screwing Up. Don't think that Brad Pitt's PR reps are unaware of this. They are counting on your commitment to the Angelina, The Calculating Vixen narrative and will use it to manipulate you. It's part of the Make Brad Pitt Great Again Campaign of 2017.
What does this have to do with running?
Even the newest amongst you have been with me for a few weeks now. You may still be committed to the narrative someone wrote about you back in high school: that you aren't an athlete, that you aren't really a runner, that it comes so easily to everyone else and you have to work harder than they do, that you are lesser and can't hope for as much because ITS GENETICS, STUPID. You may be committed to the narrative of "I'm NotaRunner." And nothing I say will pry that narrative from your mind, even in the face of overwhelming evidence in Strava and Training Peaks.
I don't know how many Knighthoods Angelina will have to receive, UN lectures she will have to give or awards she will have to collect before she can be anything other than Angelina, The Homewrecking Vixen in the minds of some. The best she can do is stay quiet and continue to let her work speak for itself. For now, that may be your best strategy when your neighborhood running frenemies try to call you out. They are counting on your commitment to The I'm NotaRunner narrative and will try to use it to manipulate you. They will make your story about their feelings about your actions so you never have to talk about how many runs they have missed or how many stress fractures they've had or how many years they've had PF. (And really, how many miles do you have to log, how many marathons or halves do you have to train for/complete/PR in before you will consider yourself a runner?)
Little do they know that over here we are re-writing your story every single day. It won't be long before you realize that your narrative is wildly different from the narratives others have written about you. All that work you've done is going to speak for itself, and it's gonna be a damn good story. It might even be as good as the Brangelina Saga.
Coach MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she coaches all kinds of runners for $30 per month and gives marathon plans away for free. Click here to download her Marathon Selection Guide!