Talking private parts with Dick Run Claire
A chat with the New Jersey native who creates GPS map routes shaped like penises, how much do you consider your running app location data, and the future of running with Apple Vision Pro?
Welcome to Running Sucks, a running blog where I talk to interesting people in the running world to find out how to make running suck less.
On the one hand, I have a master’s degree, played violin to grade 7, and have a deep interest in environmental sustainability. On the other hand, if you leave me alone with a piece of paper, a chalkboard, an iPad, I will likely draw a comedy cock on it.
You can discuss among yourselves exactly what’s wrong with me, but in the meantime, understand that in my eternal quest to make running suck less, finding the lady known as Dick Run Claire was a wonderful moment. Flicking over to Instagram and seeing the New Jersey native’s running route updates in varying shapes of penises brightens my day in a simple, single moment.
Why did you start drawing penis art with your running routes, Claire?
“I was visiting my brother in 2015 and I went for a run. I got lost because I didn't know the area. I got back, ended my GPS and thought, “Oh, that looks like a penis. That's funny.” So I took a screenshot, posted it and, of course - like, the internet is the most immature place on the planet - everyone thought it was so funny.”
“There's quite a large community of penis art people in the running community.”
Have you had any bad moments after drawing a penis with your running route?
“There's like 50,000 people on there now but when Barstool first posted an article about the account, and they linked to it, I didn't know they were doing that. That was totally fine - it was a public account - but I had so much personal stuff on there. I had to go through and scrub it because I had stuff at my office, you could identify where I lived. So that was kind of like a panic moment.”
“I'll be careful now. If I'm out at a bar, I'll post it later. Yeah, or not. You never know. I don’t want someone to be weird about it.”
Privacy is an issue. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the positives of GPS mapping with Lenny Maughan’s awesome map art. I talked about how wonderful it is that mapping and all the parts of life that maps open up to an individual or community are so freely available now. As with anything, however, the tools are only as ‘good’ as the hands they are in.
Public GPS mapping, in general, is only a decade old - in line with the development of smartphones - and so it follows that the uptake of GPS-based apps like Strava etc. took a little while longer to hit critical mass among users. It took another beat for people to start realizing how this information can be abused.
There was a big moment in Jan 2018 when the annual release of Strava’s global heatmap (compiled using public data from the platform) highlighted the activity routes around multiple US military bases around the world. That kind of headline makes people think about their own situation. Safeguards were duly put into place.
What if you go for a run every morning at 7am, though, and you automatically post that information online publicly and freely? It could be a safety issue both in terms of your property and your person. It’s something to consider, anyway. Time to have a dive into those apps’ privacy options, perhaps.
Tech News Sidenote: Apple Vision Pro & Running Routes
While we’re talking about maps, I can’t help but wonder about the opportunities in spatial computing for Strava and Google Maps et al within the new Apple Vision Pro ecosystem.
Imagine going for a run and having your running route laid out over the terrain you’re traversing. You’ll never get lost again! You might get alerts for great coffee shops to stop in at. There is no end to the possibilities!
I’m not convinced that the price point will allow for many people to want to wear the $3500 (!) goggles outdoors - and at speed - but with the increase in use of treadmills and stationary bikes, the possibility of seeing the AR or VR activity routes from lands far and wide while in the safety of one’s own home is wild and interesting.
The future is always coming!
What have been the benefits of running the Dick Run Claire account?
“It forces me to get out for a run. I love to run, but it just makes the training more fun. It gets monotonous sometimes - especially the marathon training.”
Why do you run?
“I didn't do any athletics or anything in high school. I started running later, maybe 12 years ago. For me, it's the most mind clearing - it's just my time. Sometimes I run with music, sometimes without. I love trail runs, I love running anywhere. For me, it's like meditation time.”
“I understand why people hate running. I remember there was a day when I thought a mile was really far and you have those days where you're not in the zone. When I am in the zone, that’s where I black out and 45 minutes later. I'm like, ‘I overshot my distance.’”
What do you do to make running suck less, Claire?
“I tore my ACL, so I spent last year recovering, but I just did a half marathon. Training for it, I had no goal. I just wanted to do it - just get out and enjoy the run. I just wanted to get back into running consistently. I found I'm getting back to my pace quicker, but I think it’s because my approach was no pressure.”
I’ve been recovering from Covid-19 (hence no post last week), so this week’s coaching tip is very much geared towards that recovery process.
Be Gentle With Yourself
If you’re coming back from a period of inactivity, whether that is 10 years since your last piece of exercise or 2 weeks, after an illness, be gentle with yourself.
The “rise and grind” mentality can be off-putting to many whose priority is just getting out there and not having an awful time.
Going back to recapturing your inner child, when you’re running, it might be natural to want to feel that magical feeling of running around in the school playground again. It felt like freedom, and your body was no barrier.
With work, you can definitely get back to that, but it’s important to remember that you’re a different person now. You have a different metabolism, weight, height, everything.
Meet your body where it is, acknowledge who you are now, take that pressure off and be gentle with yourself, and appreciate that you’re able to run at all. Not everyone can!
Ways to make Running Suck Less covered today:
Listen to music (or don’t)
Take the pressure off your rehab
Be gentle with your personal targets
Design a penis-shaped running route
Use music as personal meditation time
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