One of things I LOVE about distance running is the people. It is one of the few sports/activities I can think of that people from every walk of life can come together and politics, religion, and views on any given matter just don't matter. Within running you create relationships with people that you might not even be willing to acknowledge if you saw them out at the bar.
I have always said that the people you run with either become your greatest friends or your greatest enemies. And those people become the reason you set new goals, hit new paces and new distances.
So what are the rules of running together? Are there topics that are off-limits? Are there things you aren't supposed to talk about? Yesterday I had the opportunity to run with a mix of people I have ran with for years, newish run friends, and perfect strangers. So I really got to think about those rules as I went.
So yesterday I had to do 20 miles at race pace. So me and my running partner, Brit, jumped in with the 8 minute pace group. I had chatted with the pace leader earlier in the week, who happens to be a friend, and explained what we needed to do (7:50 pace).
So at the start of the run I look around and I know 3 people in the group: Brit, Jess, and Hector. I have known and run with Brit and Hector for years. Jess, I have ran with for a few months now. Then a couple miles in a couple more guys I have ran with a few times joined us. The rest of the group (4-5 guys) I have never met before. So a nice mix.
So the rules:
Beginning of the run: Mostly chat with those I know. Catch up, what's new, etc. One friend is throwing a bar crawl for charity, so we chat about that. Races coming up for everyone, how's training going? Me trying to convince someone to run their first ultra ( I have to sneak that in almost every group run!). And of course, we all have big personalities, so there are some vulgarities and loud laughs as we chirp at each other about all the things. With those that I know, no subject is sacred. Politics, sure! Current events, Sure! Random funny stories about shit we have seen and done, absolutely! TV show and Movies reviews, often! Completely inappropriate conversations about something we saw online, pretty much every run!
Now at this point, the guys we don't know have had a full dose of us. And they haven't sped up to leave the group or fell back to get away from us. So they are definitely potentially new fun running partners.
Now me being me, I have to talk to as many people as possible. So I come up on a new guy: What are the rules for talking to a new potential running buddy? As far as I can tell it is VERY similar to a first Date. It starts with the interview...
1.) Hi. How many you doing today?
2.) Oh, ___ miles. That's great. I am doing ____.
3.) What are you training for?
4) Oh great, I have done/not done that one. I am doing _______.
5.) How many marathons have you done? Oh, that 's great. I have done ___ amount.
6.) Oh ya, what's your name? Well, its nice to officially meet you____.
Alright, now that the necessities are out the way, you dig a little deeper into their running history. You are trying to find out if they are someone you will want to run with for the next couple hours, and potentially again another day. So you start digging a little further into their running history; what kind of running they do during the week, what is their marathon pr? Oh and don't forget where they live too.. just in case they live somewhere you can run with them during the week too.
Okay, now that the deeper details are out of the way. First date is going well so far... this person may be okay to run with. Similar running style, hasn't gotten offended by the things discussed between friends, and capable of carrying on a conversation.
This is where things get fun, because by the point you have gone through the first date interview with most of the people you didn't know, you are approximately 70% through the run. So you are several hours into the run. You are all kind of tired, you have been pushing each other through hills, flats, and downs. You have discussed paces and route options. You have kept each other distracted from the tired that has come and gone. And now the really fun conversations starts... Nipples. Yup, you read that right, Nipples. Because you see men have to deal with bleeding nipples. And someone had a run earlier in the week that they had that issue, so now there is a comparison of who has had bloody nipples and who hasn't. And how do you prevent them? And NOW we have shirts being lifted to show off bandaged nipples. Which of course as a female I don't have to worry about, which then starts a whole other conversation about women's sports bra's and how they protect nipples. So then we probably should design a sports bra for men to protect their nipples. Now at this point, we are are on the tail end of the run, so we are tired so the hilarity of this conversation has gotten to us all.
I think at one point we passed by an elderly woman who heard us loudly discussing nipple protection... and the look on her face as priceless.
And now the run has ended. We exchange Facebook information, because it turns out the first date run went well which means we can be facebook friends. AND we can potentially run together again. Finish stretching and leave with the "See you next week"'s.
So What Are The Conversation Rules of Running Together?
There really are no rules. There isn't anything is off limits after a certain amount of time. I have learned a lot about people through running. I mean, I would never, never, never ask someone I met at the coffee shop or bar if they ever had bleeding nipples. That is just not socially acceptable, until you run.
If you want to get to know someone on a deeper level, just run together! And they just may push you to your fastest long run ever without you even knowing it! :-) And just might become a great friend as well!