I was lying in bed last night, my mind going in circles about the race this coming Sunday. My wife and I are participating in the "The Run's For Jack" 5K in Glen Ellyn on Sunday morning and last night, in preparation for the race, we ran the course just to see what we could expect terrain-wise. Needless to say, it is VERY hilly and I'm having doubts as to whether it's going to be the kind of course I can set a PR on. Anyway, I was sitting there thinking about the race, getting butterflies, doubting myself...and then it occurred to me that running, if you let it, can be an awfully "me" oriented activity. What kind of time am I going for? "Run your race." PR stands for "Personal Record". "How fast can you run ____?" Running can be a very social sport too, but I think unless you're involved in a running club or have a lot of nearby friends who run, most of your runs are done solo...that's how it is for me anyway.
I run at lunchtime, out on the the streets by myself. For me it's recharging. I'm around people all day, on the phone, talking to people in the office, etc - lunchtime is my chance to be alone and RUN. That said, I actually prefer having someone to run with. Last night I got to run with my wife Leslie. We're at different places in our running ability, but I don't care, I love being able to run with her. Whenever my brother and I get together, we almost always find a way to get a run or two in and I love that too. Tony is a much more advanced runner than me and he pushes me in ways that I cannot push myself. Even if you don't talk to the person you're running with, it's still fun to run WITH someone.
More to the point of this post (sorry, went on a tangent there), one thing that has really been enjoyable for me over the past few months has been a website called Daily Mile. If you've been running for any length of time, you've likely heard of the site. It's basically a website for sharing workouts and races but the really cool aspect of it is that you can befriend other runners and encourage them on in their training. Think of it as a 'Facebook' tailored just for the running community. Aside from Leslie, I don't know any of the people I'm "friends" with on Daily Mile personally, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of encouraging others and I also get a lot out of the encouragement of others in my own training. I had a TON of fun reading race reports from all the people I follow who ran in the Chicago Marathon last weekend. For me, it's a great way to give back. I'm passionate about running and it's great to have an outlet where you can share that passion with others, even if you don't know them personally!
This is another tangent, but it's worth mentioning. I've been running on the public paths around my house for the past several months and one thing I've noticed that sticks out to me is that runners, for the most part, DO NOT wave to others runners when they pass. I always try to make eye contact and if I get even that far I'll give a wave, but most runners do not reciprocate. Not so for bicyclers. They ALWAYS wave. I think we runners should stick together and start waving to one another as we pass out there on the trails and streets! A wave it a simple way of saying, "we're in this together". I get that running is sometimes hard and sometimes it takes a lot of focus, but it is just a wave...
I think there's a cool duality to running. On the one hand it's an individual sport that is unlike many others. 99.9% of runners will never win a race that they enter. 99% will never even win their age group in a given race. Unlike a team sport, your performance rests entirely on your shoulders. But we still run...against ourselves...to get a better time than last time. On the other hand, running is a community sport. How much fun would a race be if there were only 5 other people there?...yeah, probably not. But it is fun when there are hundreds or thousands of other people racing with you. I think it is because of this duality that so many people become lifetime runners...because it's a personal challenge, but also so much fun to do with others.