@justrunjon on #ukrunchat said ‘Running friends are the best friends’ and I had to agree. The real question for me is why? It’s true that I feel closer to my running friends than almost any other people I know and I am not alone in this, as evidenced by the tweet. Have you ever heard someone talk of their ‘Parkrun Family’ I know I have, and it captures a little of the closeness lots of runners feel. I think there are 3 main reasons for this bond. The amount of time we spend with training partners, the shared obsession, and finally the shared experiences.
I tend to train 4 times a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. On the Tuesday I usually meet up with friends at Horsham Joggers running club and go around 7 miles. It takes about an hour. With the meeting up chatting and stretching, on Tuesday I spend up to 2 hours with my running buds. Thursdays track session amounts to a similar amount of time. So far in a week that’s about 4 hours with my running friends. Then there is Parkrun, the most sociable run of the week. Even though I can haul my arse around in just under 25mins now, I will often wait for the last of my friends. If one of us is tail running that can be 50 minutes. On a good day I am given a pass from the wife and can hang around till midday, which amounts to about 3 hours. That’s 7 hours in total and I have not even got to Sunday. I see my running friends for somewhere between 8 – 12 hours a week. That is the kind of time we invest in a part time job.
I’ve had part time jobs, and although I got on well enough with my colleagues I did not really think of them as friends. Not even that many people who I have worked with full time have made it to my Facebook friends list. I do have a lot of runners though, and the closest of those I spend a lot of time messaging as well. We talk about training plans, diets, and plot races. We support each other when we are in a slump, and heap on the praise when someone does well. As I look at other runners posts I realize that I have the same attitude on just getting things done, whether you are running to train for a target race or just running to burn the calories. We all understand the obsession. We have all been through it at some point, and sometimes we have been through it together.
The real clincher that makes running friends the best friends is that running is hard. The first 5k is a huge effort and seems impossible when you start often made easier by a learn to run group. Then there is your first 10k and the training and support that is involved, an epic achievement in it’s own right. By the time you get to half marathon training it is very difficult to retain your sanity without at least sharing the trials with others. A marathon? Well you’ve got to have some understanding support for that kind of lunacy. Marathon training partners have very few secrets, from each other, because when you have collapsed on the floor after swearing your way through the last 5 miles of a 21 mile training run in pain and sweat, there is nothing much left to keep hidden. Runners who train together through these extraordinarily difficult events probably share a similar bond to comrades in arms.
I would be hard pressed to think of any others that I have shared as much with in such a short space of time, except for maybe my spouse. I spend more time with running friends out of choice then with anyone else I know. I speak the same language. Pacing, diet, heart rates and routes are discussed at length. With those I train regularly with I have been to hell and back, on more than one occasion and still come back for more. When you think of it in these terms it’s suddenly easy to understand why running friends are the best friends.