I’ve gotta be honest. I don’t really like running all that much, “just plain running” at least. Running is hard. Sometimes running is boring. When my runs feel boring, I try to get them over with as quickly as possible, which makes them even harder. (Here’s a secret to running fast races: It helps if you don’t really like running. People who really love running tend to gravitate to ultras. I, on the other hand, like to get to the finish line as soon as I can) 😉 When it comes to fun exercise, all things being equal I would choose soccer or basketball over running.
But sometimes running is fun. Running with a group of friends is fun. Being in great shape and running a good race is fun, though rare and elusive – and still hard! So I am thankful I can run, and run efficiently and pain-free most of the time. And soccer and basketball involve large quantities of running too, and those sports are definitely fun.
But what I’m really thankful for are the people I’ve met through running. No offense to soccer players, basketball players, football, baseball, golf, cricket, and jai alai players (all demographic groups that include fantastic examples of the human species) but no sport can compare to running when it comes to friendly, upbeat, funny, and supportive people.
I’ve met most of my friends through running, as well an enormous number of good acquaintances that I see regularly at races or group runs, great people who offer up a smile and a “good job” and receive one from me in return. No matter how hard the race, I always get a little extra energy from offering a thumbs up to a familiar figure with a recognizable stride or hearing a “Go Joe!” as I gasp my way up a hill. And the thing about runners is, even total strangers are usually just as supportive to each other.
It’s no coincidence that some of my happiest and least unflattering photos have been taken while I was hanging out post race with some of the aforementioned friendly running folks. (And these shots sometimes come shortly after my most terrifying and alarming finish photos) 😉
Some of the best friends I’ve met through running will probably remain good friends even if I never ran another step (I sure hope so). But it’s because of running that we met, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that it’s at least partially because they are runners that they are such great people. (I’m not sure about the cause-and-effect: Does running create good people? Or are good people drawn to running? Or a combination? However it works, there’s a definite correlation.)
So I am thankful for running (the ability to run), and I am grateful to running for introducing me to so many good people. And I am thankful that running gives me the stamina to more than keep up with the other players in my soccer and basketball games, even when my skills may lag!