Last year I read “Once a Runner” which is allegedly THE book about competitive running. It’s a good book, but I didn’t necessarily think it deserves the cult-like status that it’s somehow developed over the years. In fact, and this is embarrassing, I ordered it online and kind of thought I was buying Once a Runner. Still haven’t read that one. Anyway… there’s a line in the book that talks about strong friendships forged through the “trial of miles and the miles of trials.”
Like I’ve written about a whole bunch, I’ve been running with a new-ish group of friends and it is amazing how close I feel to them in just three short months. I make friends relatively easily (not that I’m super popular, I’m just kind of an open book) but I’ve been surprised with how close I feel to these people so quickly. And, like anything else, I took some time to wonder why.
I think there are a few reasons. The first, is that when we run, we’re all sort of equal. Not equal in the sense of our ability to get from Point A to B in the same amount of time or in our life experiences, but at the end of the day, we all have the same goal: run better today than I did yesterday despite the obstacles. Prancing around in spandex, short shorts and sweating, spitting and all the other lovely things that come with running hard have a way of breaking down our defenses– it’s hard to be uppity when you can’t breathe and you’re sweating profusely. Or throwing up on the side of the road.
I also think there’s something to going through the trial of miles with others– sort of a “war buddy” mentality that builds up. I definitely feel bonded to my ladies who also get up in the 4am hour and streak through the darkness despite the fact that we have different goal races and abilities. And that’s one of the things that, to me, makes all this training worth it. At the end of the day, a PR is just a number and while it’s always gratifying to meet a goal, I rarely cherish the race itself more than the journey.
For example– I ran a half marathon last year that still holds my PR that I trained like crazy for. And although that day was really wonderful and the race was great, what I remember about it is the build up. Running through the dark with my buddy Jack, endless email conversations with friends about training, group long runs… you get the idea. The race was just a celebration of all that hard work.
Plus, the friends I run with just get it. Most of my friends think I’m nuts (which is true) and some even try and talk me out of training like I do. It’s nice to know that there are other like-minded folks out there doing everything they can to improve. Maybe it’s the blind leading the blind, but even if that’s the case, I think that’s fine.
As usual, I don’t really have a conclusion or a point I’m trying to make. Mostly that having running buddies is pretty fun and I want to make sure that I cherish their love and support.