When people ask me if I'm a runner, I never know how to answer. Can you run without being a runner? I feel like "runners" are defined by being solely passionate about running, but I feel like running is only one of many ways I choose to get my sweat on. I don't hate biking, or the elliptical, or strength training, or team sports. There are some things I just l-o-v-e about running though.
While my athletic passion has always been for soccer, for the past 20+ years and counting, I was surprised by the things I love about running that you won't find on a soccer field. So while soccer will always hold top billing in my heart, these are the reasons I can find a little love for the running world.
1. It can be a loner sport when you want it to be. Ever try fielding a soccer game by yourself? It's not much fun. If I want solitude, or a partner, if I want to run twice what was planned or cut if off short, I can. I can because it's my run, and it's only for me. I am solely accountable for my efforts. The risk, rewards, and failures are mine alone.
2. It's a passion for life. Do I see myself still playing soccer weekly (like I do now) when I'm in my 30s?40s? 50s? 60s? It's hard to imagine that. But do you know who I met at mile 20-something of the Pittsburgh Marathon? I met a man 70+ running his 12th marathon, after he just started running in his 60s. God willing, I have many more running years left than I do soccer years.
3. Runners are really super duper nice people. Ok, maybe not every last one of them; I'm sure there's some out there that I'd rather not know. But the people I've met at the local running store, every runner I've exchanged waves with on the sidewalk, every last person I met along those 26.2 miles back in May; they're all really nice people. Soccer players, well, we can be a mouthy, pushy, and dramatic bunch.
4. Did I mention that runners are nice, even when being competitive? Even on race day when, technically speaking, you are competing. They encourage one another and even physically help one another when the situation calls for it. Soccer? I recently had a guy tell me "I will &$^%*$# hit you! Don't think I won't!", and then he did. That was after his teammate, twice my size, tripped me and then started a shoving match with me. When was the last time a runner tripped you on purpose and called you words that rhyme with witch? Never? That's what makes runners awesome.
Dear runners, thanks for being awesome.