I started my exercise journey in February 2010 (my nine year anniversary is just two weeks away). My running journey started a few months later with my first 5K run, the Starlight 5K. After being cheered on by thousands of strangers through downtown Portland streets, I was hooked. Over time I’ve come to really love the running community, and want to encourage others to be part of it.
In general, runners are really kind to one another. Those who are closest to the starting line (with hopes to be first across the finish) can be a bit intense before and during a race, but outside of that setting, they are willing to share their wisdom with anyone from the middle or back of the pack.
There’s a swagger that comes from being a runner. I think the reason is best summarized by a quote I’ve seen on many tank tops: “My sport is your sport’s punishment.” Yes, we choose to run around in circles (and sometimes pay for it). And a three miles is a short run. Have fun hitting, kicking or whacking your balls at various goal things.
Being in the running community also provides some easy vocabulary for striking up a conversation or recovering from an awkward silence. Runners can easily come up with answers to: When is your next race? How far are you running this weekend? Have you ever dealt with (fill in the blank) injury? and What’s your favorite recovery meal? Those couple of questions could easily fill a half hour of small talk.
Finally, the running community is not confined to any stadium, court, or field. As one of my favorite shirts says: “We run the streets.” Running is how I’ve learned more about my town than I ever could by car or bus. I’ve gotten lost and un-lost dozens of times. And if you want to truly be connected with other runners while out on the roads, there are so many options for that too. I joined Oregon Road Runners Club last year after discovering all of their races and really loving how dedicated all of their volunteers are. I’m now part of that volunteer group and so excited to be there helping others get to our starting lines.
The running community is inclusive enough to invite anyone in. As long as you are willing to be seen with that post-run sweaty glow.
I’ve survived 12 marathons and one Ph.D. program. So…now what? I’ve learned through the journeys that it’s not about intelligence, speed, magic beans, or waiting for it to get easy. It’s about strength and perseverance. This year’s blog series will be about #WhatsNext after crossing some major finish lines, and preparing for new starting lines as a runner and a (not that kind of) doctor. I am #RunPhD.