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Good for you!

October 22, 2015 - Andy Flynn
This week: 413

Sept. 15: 420

Difference: -7

There I am, training for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon. The sun is out, and it’s a little chilly for May. It’s about 8 in the morning. There are plenty of people walking and running around Mirror Lake. Some are tourists, some are athletes and some are people who live here, simply out for their daily walk.

In front of the Olympic Speedskating Oval on Main Street, I stuff ear buds in my ears and hit “play” on my mp3 player for a selection of Gibson Brothers tunes, and I walk uphill toward the Olympic Center. I’m almost at the first mile, past the Mirror Lake Inn, and I see a white-haired woman walking a tiny dog. I’m in the bike lane on the right side of the road, and she’s on the sidewalk coming toward me. She asks me a question.

“Are you walking around the lake?”

I look around to see if she’s talking to me, and then I take the ear buds out of my ears.

“What did you say?”

“Are you walking around the lake?”

“Yeah.”

“Good for YOU,” she says.

I just smiled and kept walking. Then I laughed to myself. “I got another ‘Good for you’ today. I can’t wait to tell Alison.”

Alison Haas, director of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, was my walking partner for the Lake Placid Classic 10k in 2014, and we talked at length about the “Good for you” people. Now it’s an inside joke, and she ends a lot of her emails to me with, “Good for you!”

That wasn’t the first time I heard “Good for you.” It happens a lot more than you’d think. Wherever I walk in the Adirondacks — Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Elizabethtown —random strangers feel the need to point to me while I’m walking and say, “Good for you.”

It’s a nice gesture, and I should be happy to hear those words, but I’m not. On one hand, I’m glad they are kind enough to say something to me, giving me encouragement. On the other hand, it really annoys me, and for a very good reason.

They wouldn’t say that if I was skinny.

I’m not running, and I’m not walking in clothing that screams, “I’m training for a half-marathon!” So there’s no invitation to offer encouragement. I’m in everyday clothing, and the only difference is my size.

When people say, “Good for you,” they’re subconsciously saying, “Oh my God! YOU are out walking? It’s about time, fatso. You finally got off the couch and did something about your weight. YOU are out HERE, walking? GOOD for YOU!”

The good-for-youers all have good intentions, but it’s a little condescending. I really hate saying that because it’s a sincere gesture, and it comes from a good place in their hearts. Bless their hearts.

It’s encouragement, just like when runners talk to each other on a marathon race course or when the crowd cheers on the Ironman triathletes. Yet, with those words, they are unknowingly saying something about my size, and I feel singled out.

I feel like they should be patting my head when they say that. “Good for you, little boy.”

Let me be clear, encouragement is welcome, no matter what size. When I’m out on the roadway walking in the middle of nowhere and it’s clear that I’m training for a race, I enjoy hearing words of encouragement. Sometimes I need it, just not “Good for you.” Alternatives that are good motivators include “Great job,” “You’ve got this” or “Looking good.”

So, to all the large people like me who are ready to walk the roadways for exercise, I’m happy to see you out and about, but this is your warning. Be prepared to hear those words.

 
 

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Blog Photos

Andy Flynn walks along state Route 86 near Saranac Lake in the spring of 2014. (News photo — Andy Flynn)