The other night, I met up with some friends from work for dinner. It was fantastic. We ate delicious food and drank delicious beer, and laughed probably just loud enough to make nearby patrons roll their eyes. I managed to squeeze a run in before the gathering, but those girls wouldn’t have cared one bit if I hadn’t. None of them run.
I love my runner friends. I can run with them, obviously, and although I don’t think it’s ever been scientifically studied, the conversations that can revolve around running seem awfully close to limitless. Runner friends hear about a PR, even a 3-second one, and reliably display appropriate enthusiasm, such as jumping up and down, emitting inhuman shrieks, or offering some friendly profanity. There’s a definite bond there.
However, unless running brings in a regular paycheck, there come plenty of moments when we’re not wearing running shoes – when we must acknowledge the world beyond the road/trail/cardio-machine-of-choice. Some runners grumble at this. I definitely have my moments; I’ve said before that my running capris are arguably my favorite items in my entire wardrobe. But for balance? To avoid becoming that person at 5Ks who corners strangers and rambles on about their running glory days while staring into space? That consciousness of the outside world is vital.
Enter non-runner friends!
Non-runners think we runners are slightly, or not-so-slightly, nuts. We invite them to watch a race and most of them chuckle. We tell them about PRs and they say “Good job!” then move right along. They toss around the word “marathon” with almost admirable frivolity, no matter what the race’s distance.
There are exceptions, of course. For example, non-runners willing to attend races tend to provide much better support than runners, who are usually, um, running. Most of the time, though, non-runners do a lot of polite smiling and nodding.
And really, that’s not a bad thing. Non-runners help us find, develop, and indulge other parts of ourselves. I went on a cruise this spring with a non-runner friend who was perfectly content to just lie in the sun and relax, boat drink in hand. The condition was highly contagious; I had a great time. Had I traveled with a runner, the mood would have undoubtedly differed.
Another non-runner friend grew up in a dancing family the way I grew up in a running family. She’s brought me to several dance performances (both ballet and more modern), and I LOVE THEM. The dancing and music are always beautiful, and the dancers themselves? Holy cow, runners pride themselves on stamina and leg strength, but at least we don’t have to look graceful and smile the whole time!
And when it comes to attention spans, I have to say…non-runners usually win. If I want to talk about books, or watch hours of TV, or take in an art exhibit, who do I ask? What if I want to hang out at Happy Hour just shooting the breeze? Or for that matter, dissecting the heck out of just one or two subjects? Most of the time, yep, non-runners.
Runner friends motivate, cheer, and understand true love for running. All well and good. Non-runner friends, though, help us grasp the importance of slowing down and appreciating life’s less-sweaty moments. They show us how awesome the world can be when you’re not wearing spandex. And that’s pretty cool.