There’s just something about the conversations you have while running that are different from any other kind of conversation.
This is for sure true when you run with the same group of people week after week for years on end or if you run with ‘real-life’ friends. But I’ve also found it’s true when you’re running with new people who are strangers to you (at least when you start the run – they won’t stay strangers for long).
And it’s not just me, others have noticed the same phenomenon on their runs (we’ve discussed it on our runs, of course).
Why Running Conversations Are Different
This holds true even for me – I’m quiet and reserved by nature, but get me on a long run and it’s a totally different story.
My running friends know more about me than pretty much anyone. Heck, in many cases we don’t even know each other’s last names and may struggle to identify each other in street clothes, yet we know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets.
Why is that?
Less Eye Contact
My personal pet theory for this is that when you’re running with someone, you are running side-by-side, not looking each other in the eye.
This can make honesty a little less intimidating.
And for introverts like me, eye contact can be more emotionally and psychically draining, so personally, I don’t miss it (introvert side note: I’ve written about this before but I’ll say it again: introverts are not social lepers – and we are perfectly capable of eye contact, but, for me at least, it can be extra draining emotionally).
Lots Of Time To Kill
Another reason running conversations are much more likely to be ‘real’ conversations is the sheer amount of time we spend together.
This is especially true during marathon training. I’m a pace group leader for a marathon training group where we do our long runs together. This means that I’m spending 3-4 hours at a stretch with my group. There aren’t many people in my life I spend that much time with at one stretch.
We couldn’t maintain a ‘small talk only’ policy even if we wanted to.
We may all be strangers to each other on week 1, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.
We’ve Been There
Chafing in unmentionable areas? Runners trots at inconvenient moments? Emotionally imploding mid-race?
We’ve been there.
It’s happened to us too.
Mid-long run, I can usually find a way to relate to things I haven’t experienced personally. Childbirth, for example (anecdotes involving childbirth seem to be surprisingly common in running conversations). While I may not have had that specific experience, I can relate to it in my own way. Physically suffering for hours on end? I’m an ultrarunner, I get it.
It’s telling of the acceptance and openness of running groups and conversations that most dudes are totally unfazed when the conversation veers toward the gory details of childbirth (many say they find it very enlightening). There aren’t many circumstances when that would be the case.
Nothing surprises a runner.
Nothing grosses out a runner.
We’re Pretty Good At Finding The Silver Lining.
We’ve all been in the midst of a terrible run and had to keep going.
Or been injured and had to watch friends continue to train.
We’ve had terrible races, where we knew we wouldn’t reach our A or even our B goal.
But we kept going anyway – doing the best that we can with the circumstances that present themselves.
It’s a skill we take into all areas.
When you share your sticky work situation with your runner friends, or if you need advice on how to proceed with your relationship, we can use our experiences pushing through and ultimately surviving (if not thriving) during bad runs to offer a new perspective on any non-running challenge.
We’ll Let You Vent… But Then Make You Move On
We will listen to your tale of woe and will try to empathize.
We will let you vent, when that is what you need, but then we will subtly (or not so subtly) make you move on when you get a little too self-indulgent.
Bad stuff happens to us all.
But no one will be able to tolerate listening to you complain for 4 hours straight on a long run – long runs are hard enough as it is.
What about you? Have you noticed running conversations are different?