What is a "hardcore" runner?

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 12 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #5464

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I've seen this topic come up a few times elsewhere recently and thought I'd bring the topic up here to see what people think.

    Just within the recent days/weeks, I've seen many definitions thrown around. A hardcore marathoner is one who has run more than a certain number of marathons. A hardcore runner is one who spends (more/less) than a certain amount of money per year on running gear. A hardcore runner is someone who doesn't care what others think about his or her running. So on and so on.

    It has been interesting to see the thoughts of others and really thinking about what these thoughts mean. I keep coming back to one definition that I recently posted and, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, will post here after I give everyone some time to discuss what they think makes someone a “hardcore” runner. That is, unless you convince me to change my mind. Then, I'll offer my new definition, maybe alongside my old definition.

  • #21206

    Chris
    Member

    I'd consider anyone that does more than 40 miles a week pretty hardcore.  That's over 4 hours of running.  Most other hobbies don't demand that kind of time commitment to enjoy.

    I don't necessarily agree with the $$ thing.  Just because I own a half million dollar house doesn't mean I'm into houses…hardcore.  Or because I drive a $50K vehicle doesn't mean I'm hardcore into cars.  FYI I have neither  😉

  • #21207

    Run
    Member

    I tend to agree with the mileage as a qualifier, 40 is a good benchmark.  But I think its a combination of the little things that makes people hardcore runners.  A few examples that come to mind: getting up and out the door well before the sun comes up to get a 17 miler in before it gets too hot; running through teeming rain or snow, basically just getting out there regardless of the weather (as long as youre not endagering yourself); feeling that combination of breathlessness, nausea, and pain that comes at the end of a tough workout or race and smiling;  this list could go on and on… it is essentially a list of all the things that make people who dont run think we are nuts.

    tim

  • #21208

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    it is essentially a list of all the things that make people who dont run think we are nuts.

    That's an interesting way to put it.

  • #21209

    cameron
    Member

    this AM i was headed into town on the glacial drumlin trail when Double “The Legend” Dehart came charging down the trail in the opposite direction.  to compare and contrast…i'm decked  out with my mp3 player and garmin 301 gps/hrm and double's lucky if he's wearing a digital watch.  if i read a wiki on hardcore runners…it had better have a pic of Double right there because he isn't the embodiment of a hardcore runner…i don't know what is.

    “pack a lunch” ;D

  • #21210

    MothAudio
    Member

    Well, 1st I think they would have to pass the definition of “runner”, which I think many so-called runners do not. I think you can be “hardcore” for a short period but to put in years and years of training with the aim of actually improving as a runner is a truer defination. That would require a love for the sport, which I would think, or hope, every hardcore runner has in spades. Hardcore requires you to prioritize your training. That inspite of your schedule or unexpected “stuff” you do not let life control you. This will require you to posssibly run at odd times of the day and in all kinds of weather. Which all goes back to the requirements of a runner; to be adaptable, durable and resilient. To have a higher than normal level of mental and physical toughness. The same toughness you need at the end of a race is the same quality that is cultivated everytime you step out the door. Hardcore implies an extreme association. If you find other runners to shake their head at your training schedule you may just be “hardcore”.

    MikE

  • #21211

    rehammes
    Member

    To me, a hardcore runner is one who has a lousy day if he does not run. 

  • #21212

    GTF
    Member

    A hardcore runner is one who spends (more/less) than a certain amount of money per year on running gear.

    Incidentally, where did you see that, your honor?  😉

  • #21213

    Double
    Member

    Cameron,

    Just another hack trying to catch a little in the bottle now and then.
    We should run one day a week together in the AM brother.

    Double

  • #21214

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Incidentally, where did you see that, your honor?  😉

    Actually, you know where I saw the “less” but I also saw the “more” elsewhere.

  • #21215

    GTF
    Member

    Doubtful, though perhaps I missed both.  Never wrote less (or more) than any given amount, was simply meaning to impart (apparently unsuccessfully) that 'harcore' runners will tend to do more with less.  This is true among 'hardcore' runners that I have known, anyway.

  • #21216

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    OK, the more was indeed more than a certain number (I think the stated number was $250, don't ask me how anyone came up with that number) but the less was just less in general. I'd assume one meant less than people who spend a lot of money on iPods, GPS systems, all the new tech clothing, etc.

  • #21217

    Zeke
    Member

    To me, for someone to be truly hardcore they have to go beyond X mpw, Y $/month spent and Z race pace.  They have to also be a fan of the sport at some level; local, regional, national, world.  I think it also helps to know a little bit about those that came before you, so the history of the sport is important.

    I have a friend who ran in college, she runs up to 70-80 mpw when training for a marathon, she's qualified for Boston and does volunteer work for TCM.  But I wouldn't really consider her hardcore.  She only does 1-2 marathons a year, maybe 1 other race, she probably has no clue who the top people are in her age group, she's setting up flights and rooms for elites at TCM and she has no idea who they are, etc. 

    Maybe she's a hardcore runner, but I think there's a level above that too.  I'd like to think I fall into that, but I wouldn't include my friend.

  • #21218

    sueruns
    Member

    I'd agree with the moth, it's not about the miles, the times, the gear, it is all about attitude and making some sacrifices along the way, whether it being a training partner because they are holding you back or for some of us ladies—a nice girlish figure.

  • #21219

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Very interesting thoughts. I'll try to add more later but I still think the opinion I stated on the other forum stands:

    To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when asked to define hardcore pornography, a hardcore runner is hard to define but I know one when I see one.

    The traits of a “hardcore” runner may be varied and two “hardcore” runners may or may not even share the same traits. I think it's what you can't see, the passion for the sport and the passion for both enjoying the sport and for giving back in some way all that one has gotten from the sport, that really defines a true “hardcore” runner to me. Of course, this is something that may be visible but it is not readily apparent simply based on how many miles one logs, what kind of workouts one does, how much time one spends talking about running, how much money one spends on running, what one wears, or any other single factor.

  • #21220

    r-at-work
    Member

    for me it has a meaning that was sort of imparted to me when I friend asked “are you doing ALL you could”… well, I wasn't and really didn't consider myself 'hardcore” at the time… I may not be there yet, but I'm closer to that level… I think it's more like a gradient that a yes/no question… I have money to spend (but I don't buy stuff, especially gadgets) just because I can… I don't race as often as I could since I spend lots of weekends doing things with my kids, and I'm sure I'll never be as fast as whatever criteria anyone might list for speed…

    on the other hand, I've run more this year than last (and more last than before)… I'm faster this year than last (even at 52, which shows how slow I used to be)… most of all I think it's a personal attitude, desire and goals…

    will those extra miles/gadgets/stretching/sleep/races/training/clothes/coach make you better? what are you willing to give up to get better… and I'm naive enough to think there is a certain level of integrity involved as well, I truly believe a hardcore runner would not cut a course short or take illeagal drugs to win… because THAT wouldn't be an accomplishment, it would be cheating…

  • #21221

    GTF
    Member

    No matter how many times it is repeated, this paraphrase still does not work, unless you are implying that either you cannot properly analyze or will not.  This is not about defining law concerning the limits of expressive freedom for an entire citizenry, which requires very careful language, this is nothing more than a casual break-down of tendencies and basic observed commonalities — not single factors in and of themselves, but a set of standards or ideals that are easily observed.  If you do not want to take a stand, no one can make you.  😉

  • #21222

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    …this is nothing more than a casual break-down of tendencies and basic observed commonalities — not single factors in and of themselves, but a set of standards or ideals that are easily observed.

    The problem is that every tendency has its exception and most, if not all, of the exceptions are quite widespread. If you think “hardcore” runners spend less money, you can always find quite a few “hardcore” runners who spend more and a lot of not so “hardcore” runners who spend next to nothing. If you think “hardcore” runners spend more time running, you can always find some not so “hardcore” runners who spend a lot of time running. If you think “hardcore” runners don't take as many days off, I'd have to ask whether you think people who do those decades long streaks are “hardcore” (I think they may be in some way but I also think “hardcore” runners know when a day off is needed and aren't afraid of taking the day off).

    I can list a bunch of general tendencies (such as below) but there are always plenty of exceptions because I truly believe a hardcore runner can come in many forms.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see always running, seemingly at all times of the day and definitely in nearly all weather conditions.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see at the local high school track all alone but still doing gut busting workouts.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see at the biggest hill in the area charging up leg and lung searing repeats whether or not anyone is there to see them.

    A hardcore runner may be the person who runs through fatigue, soreness, even pain when the time is right but also knows what not to run through.

    A hardcore runner may be the person who does not make excuses for missing a run.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see out running at 10:00 at night because they couldn't get the run in earlier in the day.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see out running at 3:00 in the morning because they know they won't have time later in the day to do the run.

    A hardcore runner may be the person who always brings all he or she has to every race and lays it all on the line, no matter what shape he or she is in.

  • #21223

    peace467
    Member

    When I run 40 miles a week or more I feel like a 'real' runner.  I'm not sure if running 5 or 6 miles every day qualifies someone as 'hardcore' though.  I'd say 60 miles or so minimum would get the 'hardcore' label if it was strictly based on miles per week.  But it isn't.  There are several runners I consider 'hardcore' and I have no idea what their miles per week are.  Double is one guy I'd consider 'hardcore', along with Ryan.  I used to consider myself 'hardocore' but not anymore.  Maybe at some point I'll get serious again and become 'hardcore'?

  • #21224

    sueruns
    Member

    so when does “hardcore” become just plain nuts??

    I think I went over the edge a few times
    1) running on my treadmill at 11:30 pm new years eve when I realized that I needed 3 miles to push me over 3000
    2) flying in to Duluth, MN from a balmy 70f san antonio to run in -40f
    3) finishing a marathon after ripping my hamstring at mile 8, (it didn't really, really hurt 'til mile 22, I'm not completely insane)

  • #21225

    GTF
    Member

    The problem is that every tendency has its exception

    Yes, obviously.

    and most, if not all, of the exceptions are quite widespread.

      Being widespread would make them the tendencies, not the exceptions. 

    If you think “hardcore” runners spend less money, you can always find quite a few “hardcore” runners who spend more and a lot of not so “hardcore” runners who spend next to nothing.  If you think “hardcore” runners spend more time running, you can always find some not so “hardcore” runners who spend a lot of time running.

      I do not associate long hair and wearing dresses with men, though there are plenty of men who have long hair and/or wear dresses.  There is nothing wrong with any of that, but most men do not wear dresses.

    If you think “hardcore” runners don't take as many days off, I'd have to ask whether you think people who do those decades long streaks are “hardcore” (I think they may be in some way but I also think “hardcore” runners know when a day off is needed and aren't afraid of taking the day off).

    Hardcore runners focus on performance, not on running or training simply for its own sake.

    I can list a bunch of general tendencies (such as below) but there are always plenty of exceptions because I truly believe a hardcore runner can come in many forms.

    Who said that rules or tendencies cannot have exceptions?  This is not some rigid court ruling that will bind people narrowly.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see always running, seemingly at all times of the day and definitely in nearly all weather conditions.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see at the local high school track all alone but still doing gut busting workouts.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see at the biggest hill in the area charging up leg and lung searing repeats whether or not anyone is there to see them.

    A hardcore runner may be the person who runs through fatigue, soreness, even pain when the time is right but also knows what not to run through.

    A hardcore runner may be the person who does not make excuses for missing a run.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see out running at 10:00 at night because they couldn't get the run in earlier in the day.

    A hardcore runner may be the person you see out running at 3:00 in the morning because they know they won't have time later in the day to do the run.

    A hardcore runner may be the person who always brings all he or she has to every race and lays it all on the line, no matter what shape he or she is in.

    I knew you had it in you!  ;D

  • #21226

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Hardcore runners focus on performance, not on running or training simply for its own sake.

    In other words, when you posed the question, you were asking about hardcore competitors, not necessarily all hardcore runners. Personally, I think a person could be a hardcore runner without being a hardcore competitor, although I also tend to associate one with the other.

  • #21227

    GTF
    Member

    It seems a definite implication to me.  How one could get the most out of oneself without the added stimulus of competition would be a mystery.

  • #21228

    Anne
    Member

    Perhaps the internal fire that drives the hardcore runner is greater then any external source.  The competition lies within and it is such a great and integral part of who they are that no outside stimulus is needed.

    I think of area runners who I would classify as hardcore. You will not ever find them at races yet if they were to line up, would handily win.
    For some, the greatest competition doesn't involve any other person they need to look no further then themselves to find their greatest competitor.

  • #21229

    GTF
    Member

    Would this internal fire not be stoked by a competitive atmosphere?  I have yet to encounter the individual who is completely unaffected by competition.  Hardcore runners usually embrace competition with their peers, not shrink from it.

  • #21230

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I think of area runners who I would classify as hardcore. You will not ever find them at races yet if they were to line up, would handily win.
    For some, the greatest competition doesn't involve any other person they need to look no further then themselves to find their greatest competitor.

    I would have to second GTF's comment. If we're talking about the internal fire for competition, how do you compete against yourself without having a baseline? Maybe someone you haven't beaten or a certain race performance or something like that?

    I also don't know of a single competitive person for whom a race atmosphere doesn't provide something extra. Maybe just the adrenaline of head to head competition or maybe people to chase or maybe a million other things. Whatever it is, though, everyone who lines up seems to be affected.

  • #21231

    Anne
    Member

    Not that they would shrink away from outside competition, it's not a required component of running for them. Are there hardcore runners who need the thrill & challenge of competing against others? Yes, certainly. For others equally hardcore, that atmosphere isn't necessary.

    I'd like to respond more but I have to take Maggie back to school shopping in Madison, I'll come back to this.

    Good topic. Are we trying to fit the square peg in the round hole? Defining people can be tricky business & open to a slew of variables.

    Have a good day all.

  • #21232

    GTF
    Member

    I thought that it had been established (or was a given) that hardcore runners seek to get the most out of themselves? 

  • #21233

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Are there hardcore runners who need the thrill & challenge of competing against others? Yes, certainly. For others equally hardcore, that atmosphere isn't necessary.

    True. If we're talking hardcore competitor, of course, racing would be a necessary component. However, if we're talking more generally of a hardcore runner, racing may or may not be a component at all. I guess I misinterpreted your comments to say that the desire to compete in some way takes away from one's “hardcore credentials” (or something like that).

    Yes, I'd say we're probably trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. However, I always see the term “hardcore” thrown around but I've always had trouble defining it myself. Sometimes, I feel like I'm being a hardcore runner, sometimes I feel like I'm being the antithesis of a hardcore runner. Sometimes, I look at someone and think that's not a hardcore runner. Other times, I look at someone and say that's definitely a hardcore runner. I sometimes have thought I wonder what all of this means but it wasn't until recently, when I saw this topic come up in a couple of other places, that I really took time to think about both how I would define a hardcore runner and what I see in people when I say that person is or isn't hardcore. I thought it would be interesting to see how people here would answer those questions.

  • #21234

    Anne
    Member

    Hardcore competitor would be a different beast.

    I have to tell you about an odd coincidence that happened yesterday. I was describing the upcoming trail race I'm running this weekend to a friend and his comment left me a little amused. He said “You must be a hardcore runner.”  I couldn't believe he used the same term we had been discussing here, my first thought was to ask him what defines a hardcore runner in 20 words or less.  🙂

    For the record, I consider myself a dedicated runner & at times hardcore but not full time HC. 

  • #21235

    GTF
    Member

    Hardcore definitely implies earnestly seeking to get the most out of oneself, to be the best one can be (at any given activity), and thus implies competitor. 
    Viewing competition as being solely or chiefly with oneself would be newage, not hardcore.  8)

  • #21236

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    He said “You must be a hardcore runner.”  I couldn't believe he used the same term we had been discussing here, my first thought was to ask him what defines a hardcore runner in 20 words or less.  🙂

    You should have. Would have been interesting to know his definition. 😉

  • #21237

    Anne
    Member

    No GTF, I disagree, I think there are runners who are hardcore who get a satisfaction greater then any competition brings to their running. Perhaps it is a concept unfamiliar with someone who sees head to head competion as the truest test of themselves as some runners do.
    Running attracts a certain type of personality,  There's a reason those endurance runners like to be out there for hours by themselves.

    It's not an either/or issue.  There is competition but it's in the form of minutes or seconds ticking by, a looming mountain or miles of roadway.  Competition does not have to take human form.

    There are many ways to tests your own limits.
    Maybe I'm too Zenish, I don't think it's newage since I've been running for many, many, many years.

  • #21238

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Anne, I would agree. Of course, we can all probably picture the hardcore competitive runner. But what about the “Forrest Gump” (to use a comparison we're all probably sick of hearing people sitting in their cars use) type runner? What about the person who may infrequently or even never compete but runs through anything and runs a lot, maybe even very challenging runs, simply for the pure pleasure of running? Sometimes, while I consider myself a competitive runner, I realize I have some of this runner in me when I go through times when I couldn't care less if I ever ran a race again but I still go out for my runs, sometimes very challenging runs, regardless of the conditions or any external factors for no reason other than the fact that running is what I love to do.

    That's why, if I were pressed on the issue, I'd probably say there are two types of “hardcore” runners. The hardcore competitor and the hardcore non-competitive runner.

  • #21239

    GTF
    Member

    La “Once a Runner” es la verdad — LA LEYO!  8)

  • #21240

    denton
    Member

    IMHO 'hardcore ' is when nothing, short of death or severe sickness/injury, holds you back from your runs…..

  • #21241

    GTF
    Member

    [Cassidy] was uninterested in the perspective of the fringe runners, the philsopher runners, the training rats; those who sat around reading abstruse and meaningless articles in Runner's World, coining yet more phrases to describe the indescribable, waxing mystical over various states of euphoria that the anointed were allegedly privy to. 

    On the track, the Cassidys of the world ate such specimens alive.

    Cassidy sought no euphoric interludes.  They came, when they did, quite naturally and he was content to enjoy them privately.  He ran not for crypto-religious reasons, but to win races, to cover ground fast.  Not only to be better than his fellows, but better than himself.  To be faster by a tenth of a second, by an inch, by two feet or two yards than he had been the week or year before.  He sought to conquer the physical limitations placed upon him by a three-dimensional world (and if Time is the fourth dimension, then that too was his province).  If he could conquer the weakness, the cowardice in himself, he would not worry about the rest; it would come.  Training was a rite of purification; from it came speed, strength.  Racing was a rite of death; from it came knowledge.  Such rites demand, if they are to be meaningful at all, a certain amount of time spent precisely on the Red Line, where you can lean over the manicured putting green at the edge of the precipice and see exactly nothing.

    Anything else that comes out of that process is a by-product.  Certain compliments and observations made Cassidy uneasy; he explained that he was a runner; just an athlete, really, with an absurdly difficult task.  He was not a health nut, was not out to mold himself a stylishly slim body.  He did not live on nuts and berries; if the furnace was hot enough, anything would burn, even Big Macs.  He listened carefully to his body and heeded strange requests.  Like a pregnant woman, he sometimes sought artichoke hearts, pickled beets, smoked oysters.  His daily toil was arduous; satisfying on the whole, but not the bounding, joyous, nature romp described in the magazines.  Other runners, real runners, understood it quite well.

    Quenton Cassidy knew what the mystic-runners, the joggers, the runner-poets, the zen runners and others of their ilk were saying.  But he also knew that their euphoric selves were generally nowhere to be seen on dark, rainy mornings.  They primarily wanted to talk it, not do it.  Cassidy very early on understood that a true runner ran even when he didn't feel like it, and raced when he was supposed to, without excuses and with nothing held back.  He ran to win, would die in the process if necessary, and was unimpressed by those who disavowed such a base motivation.  you are not allowed to renounce that which you never possessed, he thought.

  • #21242

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    What a great quote. I have to pick up that book and read it again.

  • #21243

    Anne
    Member

    “…would die in the process if necessary…”

    I think that goes beyond hardcore.  😉

  • #21244

    r-at-work
    Member

      .. To be faster by a tenth of a second, by an inch, by two feet or two yards than he had been the week or year before. 

      … true runner ran even when he didn't feel like it, and raced when he was supposed to 

    this is most of it… but myself I am more complex than JUST a runner… though my husband, kids & boss understand this 'running thing' is important to me…
    -Rita

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