If I could draw anything better than poorly drawn stick figures, this would be a perfect chance to poke fun at and caricaturize various figures in the running community. The grizzled veteran. The apostle. The elite. The born again. The totally into it. The gear head. The race director. The social butterfly. The young blood. They might be funny, and true. But each of these people has a place in the running world. It is what can make a collection of runners so rich, and invigorating to be a part of.
I’ve been lucky to have been a small part of the running community in my town for a number of years. First as a prep runner. Then a decent age grouper. Later on as a coach. Most recently with our local running club and a regional team. It took time. But I (we as a city) are incredibly fortunate in the range and quality of people who are regularly around to train, race, and volunteer.
I was reminded once again of how big an impact the community around you can have. The high school team I help coach is made up of an incredibly wide range of kids. One of our new guys this year is from Iraq. Been in America four years. His training shoes were crap. Usually we can rummage enough from our closets to help a kid out, but this time we came up empty. When I got home one evening I started texting friends just looking for a lightly used pair of trainers. By the time I got to the bottom of my contact list, those people had already heard that I was asking around. Not only did I have a bag of shoes on my porch the NEXT morning, I had multiple offers to straight up buy him a pair. Incredible. Every person should be so lucky to be part of something like that.
Communities take on all shapes. Churchs and clubs and neighborhoods and volunteer groups. In running it might be Strava or November Project or a competitive team or the Sunday morning long run group. The beauty is that once you are in, you are in. That community is always there for you. Maybe that makes those lonely moments a little less lonely.