When I started running I thought it was something that you do alone. I had no idea that the people that I would meet and the relationships that would be built would be so inspirational to me. Runners are a different kind of people. They are friendly and accepting. It’s like we have an unspoken understanding of each other. They make me feel like I belong in their group. They are not judgmental or critical of each other. We are people from all walks of life – all different shapes and sizes. And even though it can be a competitive sport, all the runners that I have encountered genuinely seem to want others to be successful. They are very encouraging and supportive.
I have also seen how easy it is to bond over running. It’s something that we can talk about all day. We share our experiences with each other. We talk each other through the hard times. For me, this was unexpected but very much welcomed. I have come to realize that I am my own worst critic. I am very hard on myself and if I don’t perform the way I think I should I get very frustrated. It really helped me to have people encouraging me and building me up even when I knew I had a bad race. This went for my weekly runs as well. I love how I can talk about having a bad run with runner friends and not feel like they are judging me. They listen and share their bad run experiences. They form a good support system.
I have made friends solely based on running. We have formed a bond around that. Runner friends are a good motivation source for me too. If I have days where in not wanting to go run, even though I know I need to, when I hear about what an awesome run a friend had, then it makes me throw my excuses out and get out the door. I also love hearing about races that my friends do. It’s fun to hear their experiences and recommendations.
The best part is running races together! It is so much fun to experience this with my friends, and even my family. These are lifelong memories that we are making. There is just something inexplainable about sharing these accomplishments with the ones you love.
One of the best experiences that I can share with you is from the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. I was really excited about this race, and I felt like I was physically prepared. However, I had been having some pain in my shn the couple weeks before the race, but I was determined to do it. I started out strong and was really enjoying it! I was having a blast seeing all the spectators and reading their signs. I was even ahead of my planned time at the half way mark. But, somewhere around mile 9 I started slowing down. At this point it the race became completely mental for me. I kept telling myself that my leg hurt and I needed to walk. I started taking walk breaks and telling myself that I would be happy to just finish and that I didn’t care how long it takes me. But, even I knew as I thought these things that it wasn’t true. I would have been very upset and disappointed in myself. I kept trying to force myself to run hard and make up for time that I was losing. But I just couldn’t make my body cooperate. I struggled with this battle for the next few miles. At mile marker 13 I honestly was finally giving up. I was feeling defeated. I started to slow to a walk and as I did, a girl, a perfect stranger, came by and grabbed my arm. She said she had followed me the entire race and she wasn’t letting me quit now. She said we were going to finish strong together. She talked me through the battle that I was having in my mind and ran beside me the entire last mile. When we crossed the finish line together she gave me a high five and told me great job. I have no idea who she was but I am so grateful to her for being there for me when I needed it the most.
This is what I mean about runners being so encouraging. She could have just run right by me and not paid any attention. But she didn’t, and the encouragement that she showed me in the moment when I was at my worst will never be forgotten.
This is a big part of why I love running!
Why do you love running?