Sunday, September 30, 2007

Community and Rain

Even though it is raining and cold today, ten runners showed up at the store for our Sunday run. Eight of us ran for almost nine miles, and Eric and Maria (a new member) ran six.

After our run, four of us had breakfast together. While we were enjoying our eggs, pancakes and coffee, we had a very interesting conversation that I would like to share.

After I mentioned I was from Mexico, Brian said that when he had been on vacation there, he had been amazed at the strong family and community values that people have. We all agreed that a sense of community has been lost in most places in the United States. I wonder what percentage of our national depression epidemic is due to this.

Many studies have shown that when we feel a sense of belonging and have a support network, we are more stable and happier. Once our basic needs are met (food, shelter, and health), it is not material gain that makes us happier. Among other things, belonging to a group makes us feel happier. Being social is a trait that has always allowed us to survive harsh conditions, so it makes sense that belonging to a community enriches our life.

So, back to our run. There is a big difference between running by yourself on a rainy day, and running with a bunch of other wet people. Actually, I don't think a lot of us would go out for a run by ourselves on the first place. Knowing that a group of friends is waiting for you is enough incentive to get you out of a warm and cozy bed at 7:00 AM on a gray Sunday. Knowing that you are having a yummy breakfast after your group run helps too :-)

Some of the runners in our group have told me that at first, they were hesitant about running with us. They thought that they would not be able to keep up with the pace, and that they would end up running by themselves, or that they would slow everyone down.

They soon found out that they didn't need to worry. This group is not the 'see if you can keep up with us' group. This group is about running together. There are some that are slower or faster than others, but we always come up with a system so that no one runs alone. The larger our group, the easier it is. We break up into smaller groups depending on running pace and distance.

I love running by myself too. I find that I can think clearly about my problems, I can come up with new ideas for work, or I can just listen to my music and escape. But I don't like to always be the stereotypical lonely runner, bravely facing the elements with a furrowed brow, willing myself to overcome the obstacles that the road may present to me. Sometimes I like to be more humble, and let the synergy of a group carry me through a long wet run. It is good to not try to be a hero all the time. And, did I mention our breakfast?



wendy said...

You are so right about having others to run with. I planned on 10 today, but my last run was on Tuesday, and I've been battling a cold the rest of the week. My running partner called this morning and said, it's raining pretty hard right now...then she said the worst thing: "it's up to you, I'm just thinking of you because you've been sick..."

Ha, totally up to me! How scary is that! I decided to give it a go. We went pretty slow, and my lungs were sore, but my legs didn't get sore til about 8 miles in.

If I had breakfast to look forward to, I'm sure there would have been no hesitation! =) That's really nice that your group finds a way to make sure no one is alone. At my pokey pace, it's my big fear too.

I think you're right about community too - I find that we talk about just about everything on our runs, and it's different than talking over coffee, b/c we're not looking at each other, we can just get stuff off our chest. It's wonderful, without feeling completely vulnerable somehow...I say, keep up the community goal. We need healthier choices around us when looking for friendships.

John Rankin said...

I was with you guys in spirit yesterday. I was down in Olympia this weekend so wasn't able to bring my smiling face to the group run. I am one of those strange people who went out in the rain on their own... I woke at 5:45 to get ready for my 18 miles. I waited as long as I could but nothing changed so I ran.

I got wet... very wet. I stayed warm, but boy was I wet!!! And yes, I thought a lot about the breakfast you guys were sure to be enjoying while I tasted the rain.

John Rankin said...

Here's an interesting take on runners and who we are. We seem to be part of something bigger. A community ?

Lonerunner wrote: [Who are the runners? Can you spot a runner in the mall? Do they have...]