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running snob

during a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago i was introduced to the concept of “running snob”. my friend, who I’ll call ‘dinky’, attends a tempo run, as part of the meets sponsored by his running club. at the end of the run they all socialize before leaving. (probably to air-dry a little bit and not have the interior of the car smelling like a wet dog). the ‘snob’ approaches dinky and asks: ‘how was your run?’; but as dinky opens his mouth to start voicing his reply, the snob proceeds to tell dinky how HIS run was. without ever really wanting to hear about dinky’s run. ‘i just did 10 miles in 7:14 pace. blah, blah, blah’. notice that not only hadn’t dinky replied to the snob, but he never even asked anything about the snob’s run. (which he politely would, but he barely had time for a complete breath, let alone to say anything, before the snob starts his long and detailed report of his amazing run).

pondering on my friend’s story, (remember, i’m a compulsive thinker), i realize i’ve met quite a few snobs, and try to come up with a hypothesis on the reasons behind this behavior. i think it stems from the snob’s own insecurities and need for reassurance. he has at his disposal 3 ways to boost his ego and feel good about himself, the reasons for choosing one over the others being unimportant. let’s, for the sake of argument, just consider it a random and unconscious choice, in order to reduce the variables we have to work with in our system.

so these are the ways by which the snob can achieve his goal:

  1. embellishing his own accomplishments: this is a way to be able to hear what he wants to hear. even if it comes from his own mouth. he apparently doesn’t seem to care.
  2. proclaiming the mediocrity of dinky’s accomplishments: without bragging about his feats, the snob is able to prove himself superior — in comparison. (obviously, he’s the only one interested in the proof).
  3. imputing his own fears and insecurities to dinky: this is almost like number 2 above, except it goes a step further: the snob will still feel superior, but as a bonus it allows him to forget about his insecurities and to focus entirely on dinky’s (real or imagined).

and i’m not going to belabor the point. please notice that i’m not, at any time, denying the snob’s abilities, and the idea that he so wants to get across: that he is a fenomenal runner. i’m sure he is, and would be quite a pleasure to be around and to learn from, if only the word ‘humble’ were to be in his dictionary.

so taking the matter a little further, and abstracting from the ‘running world’, i realize a snob can exist that isn’t a runner. just a snob. period. he has the same goals, and will resort to the same methods, except they are not running related. how nice to have people with a vast variety of personalities in this world.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • gabrielavfh July 21, 2006, 4:24 pm


  • olga July 21, 2006, 5:45 pm

    There are those, and, honestly, sometimes we are one. But a good point taken:)

  • Robb July 21, 2006, 7:06 pm

    You’re onto something gnatty. Interesting thoughts. Have a good weekend.

  • Jessica Deline July 21, 2006, 7:12 pm

    I’m the most humble person I know… Did I tell my great running story? 😉
    Good post!

  • ~gnatty~ July 21, 2006, 7:31 pm

    no way, jessica. i’m more humble than you. oh, by the way, my post is a disguised use of method #3… 😉

  • Kim July 22, 2006, 1:30 am

    That was funny. It seems in ultra running circles, that less is more, and modesty is #1. You find out later that runner A’s “run last weekend” was a 100 miler, or runner B’s placed in the top 10, and they said “they did ok at the race”.

  • angie's pink fuzzy July 22, 2006, 3:37 am

    great post. my theory is that every action any one takes is to protect themselves. (like your compulsive thinking? a survival mechanism.) so that’s the snob’s survival mechanism…

  • ~gnatty~ July 22, 2006, 5:47 am

    interesting theory, angie. i’d be glad if you could elaborate. this will sound… funny… but… you got me *thinking* !! LOL
    it is very possible that keeping my mind busy all the time is a protection mechanism, or avoidance of some sort. and i keep myself busy most of the time, too. i can’t sit and just BE. gotta be doing something, gotta be on the go, working, thinking, out running, reading, listening to music, picking up after my husband’s clutter… 🙂
    enjoy the weekend everyone!

  • matt July 22, 2006, 3:02 pm

    gnatty, if thinking too much is a method of avoidance, then you are one healthy escapist. i love the way your mind works and you are spot on about snobs. great post!

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