I’m currently in a running funk—and by funk I mean severely out of shape. Credit a few stressful work weeks (which inevitably extends to stress eating), more than a couple trips to my homeland, Illinois, and my refusal to pull myself away from watching baseball (God bless its return). But without an outlet to release my stress or the rush of endorphins pepping me up, I have turned into a larger, crankier hot- head, easily irritated by small disruptions to my day. A Ralph Kramden, if you will. I’ve tried my best to recite my “pins and needles” mantra, but to no success.
While mentioning this to a learned running vet, I was prompted: if Ralph is the grumpy, out-of-shape runner, what type of runner personalities do the other Honeymooners characters represent? And so, we begin:
• Ralph Kramden: As mentioned above, Ralph is the stressed, busy runner whose routine is continuously interrupted by daily life. In the show, Ralph is a city bus driver who deals with New York traffic, angry customers, and meager wages. Add in a tiny Brooklyn apartment and you’ve got stress. Long shifts and high anxiety leave “The Ralph Runner” little energy to get those shoes on after work, instead opting for comfort food and a night with the boys at the Raccoon Lodge. This “alternative” running routine makes training inconsistent and workouts more difficult, leaving “The Ralph Runner” frustrated with his own situation and jealous of those able to happily manage that work/life balance (aka “The Ed Nortons”).
• Ed Norton: Ed Norton is the easy-going, relaxed, happy character that glides through life unhinged by anxiety. Meet the runner we all despise. “The Ed Norton Runner” is the person that takes up the activity for fun only to discover they have incredible speed and endurance—the varsity walk-on, the friend who thought running the marathon would be “fun” and gets a 3:20 finishing time. This is a runner that can down a plate of waffles right before a run and be fine. Much to “The Ralph Runner’s” disgust, “The Ed Norton Runner” can eat whatever he or she wants, whenever they want, and retain a trim, muscly physique. They run for fun, only the key difference between them and the “Alice Kramden Runner” is that they aren’t beholden to strict routines and diets in order to meet their goals.
• Alice Kramden: “The Alice Kramden Runner” is dedicated, scheduled, and ambitious in their running goals. This is the 5am-er, the “raisins are my sweets” eater, the cross-country captain. In the show, Alice is always working hard to stretch a buck and keep her temperamental husband in line. She brings order to chaos in the Kramden household and doesn’t complain or quit. She stands her ground even when Ralph threatens to send her “to the moon” and always demands more from her husband just as a coach would. In summary, as a runner she is Kathrine Switzer; pushing against absurd restrictions and putting her success in the sport first. And she’s damn good at it.
• Trixie Norton: “The Trixie Norton Runner” is the casual runner. He or she may run to stay in shape a few times a week and will throw in a Turkey Trot or Cinco de Miler once in a while, but they aren’t passionately involved in the sport. Trixie is an interesting character; she is similar to her husband, Ed, in her more relaxed approach to life (no doubt helped by the fact that Norton is willing to shell out for luxury items, unlike Ralph) but like Alice is also hardworking and scheduled. This runner has a healthy relationship with the sport: their world doesn’t crumble when they miss a workout, their Instagram feeds aren’t clogged with workout selfies and shots of post-workout food binges from elite runners from around the world, but they also make the time to get out there for a quick three miler.
Ralph Kramden has difficulty fighting his stress yet most episodes end with him embracing Alice, grateful for his wonderful life and declaring “Baby, you’re the greatest!” Perhaps this release of tension in the final moments of the episode give hope to “The Ralph Kramden Runner.” You may not be able to stop the stress of life but find a training partner to help you manage it and you’ll be over the moon!
Grace lives in NYC and works in the marketing department at a children’s book publisher.