When you put a PR race result on Facebook, many people reply or click like. After I posted my time from Sunday, many (some, but not all, being fellow runners) offered congratulations. One runner in particular, was someone who trained in the same group I did last year but finished a solid nearly 12 minutes faster than I did. We both ran for the American Cancer Society. We joked, at the end of training, that we should both be ready to run a 3:20 this year. For her, that is a mere 7+ minutes improvement. For me, that would be 19+ minutes. Could I? Maybe. She’s still encouraging me.
More importantly, with encouragement from her and a few others to at least go for 3:30 and possibly go for 3:20 this year, I am quite happy going into summer training in a few weeks.
I shared the following comment back after she encouraged me to still shoot for a 3:20—“At this point, I'm just trying to take it one day, one run, and one smile from a fellow runner at a time.” Many may be puzzled by the last part of that. Everyone knows that runners share miles. Particularly marathon runners. Many people don’t run 26.2 miles in a week (or a month). We run that in one day with weeks of running 30+ miles to get there. So, it is obvious that runners share miles. But runners also share smiles. If we didn’t, we would probably give up on running. What can a smile from a fellow runner mean?
A smile when you come back from a workout dripping with sweat and your fellow runner is already cooled down with his third contained or water can mean—you look like you need a pick-me-up. I’ve been there. It’ll be okay.
A smile when you walk up to a group stretching to prepare for a long run can mean—isn’t this morning a great day for a run?
A smile when you are out on the road together can mean—thank you.
A smile when you are out on the road together can also mean—this is just the right pace. Or, would you like to pick up it?
A smile when you are hurt can mean—I’m here to listen if you want to talk about how disappointing it is to be injured.
A smile when you cross the finish line can mean—you’ve done well.
A smile can mean so many things. The smiles shared by those who have trained hard and who respect each other’s training and each other’s running and each other’s amazing will power to go 3.1, 6.2, 10, 13.1, 20, or 26.2 (or any other distance for that matter) are just signs of being part of a group where there is something that only people in that group have fully experienced and where non-verbal communication can go a long way to making everyone in the group happy and new people in the group feel welcome to come into a wonderful experience.