I only ever talk about running all day, every day 24/7, 365…just kidding. You kind of believed me, though, didn’t you? But let’s get real, have you ever noticed the phenomenon amongst runners that when you’re not running, all talk is about running? And when you are running, all you want to talk about is, well, anything but running? If you haven’t noticed this before, and I just blew your dang mind, you’re welcome. But if you know what I’m talking about, you know this is one aspect of running that makes the sport so special.
When I first started hanging out in the running community in NYC, I went to a meet-up at a bar with the new team I had joined. I dressed up, put make-up on (a big deal for me), and was so pumped to learn all about these new people in my life. I got to the bar, grabbed a drink, and sidled up to some of the ladies on the team.
Now, I am a steady back-of-the-pack runner, and I am used to being dropped pretty much within the first five minutes of any workout. When my running friends run with me now, it is usually because they have already gotten their run in and are doing me a favor. I am 100% okay with the favor, and my friends have never made me feel less than because I cannot return it.
Back to the bar and the new ladies, I have pretty much only gotten to know the back of their heads as we trained together; I was ready to dive in. I wanted it all, their hopes, dreams, wishes, fears. I was looking for some real, lasting new friendships. When I got to the table, my heart sank. They were all discussing training for the upcoming marathon season. I was perplexed, here we all were in our “real” clothes, and we’re only going to talk about running?? This was not in my plan, not one bit. As I sat there and took large gulps of my too expensive drink, I wondered what I would have to add. I had not yet run a marathon, and at the time, I had no desire to do so. So, I sat quietly, gulping, until finally, I exclaimed, “CAN WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN RUNNING?” Uh, big mistake. Apparently, we can’t. They paused, stared at me like an alien had just burst out of my chest holding my beating heart while I stared back, wide-eyed, silently cursing myself for suggesting such a thing. After a beat, they went right back to discussing marathon training and pretty much ignored me for the rest of the night. Let’s just say I’m not friends with those ladies. And I had a lot to learn.
Since that night at the bar, I tried to join a few teams but stuck with none of them because I was usually running alone at practices, and when we weren’t running, which was the only time I could talk to people, well, we were talking about running. So, I pretty much got to know...no one.
Fast forward a few years. I have since run a marathon thanks to a guy named Ryan Starbuck, who promised me that I could eat whatever amount of candy I wanted if I signed up. I liked the sound of this. The truth is, you can’t eat all the candy you wish to, especially before a long run, but I ran the darn race anyway. Now I have a fantastic group of running friends, and they taught me what I had been missing: save the good stuff for the run.
There is something magical about running that frees you up to speak openly and be vulnerable. I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure that there is something proven somewhere in some journal that states people feel way more comfortable opening up when they aren’t looking at anyone. Especially if you have your goodrs on, it becomes even easier to open up and be yourself (this is also science).
So, there you are, side by side, connected by activity. The next thing you know, someone you have only just met knows your childhood trauma, what you’re allergic to, who broke your heart, the doctors appointment you had earlier for that weird mole under your armpit, and what you want to name your hypothetical kids even though you haven’t dated anyone in years. Some may call this an overshare, but this, my sweet readers, is how running friends become your best (running) friends.
Running has since become my favorite way to socialize with my friends. It is even better if it ends with a glass of wine. And when the pandemic tried to complicate that, I packed to-go cocktails in my run pack for after the run, but I digress.
I’ve gotten to the point in many of my running friendships where I wait until I’m on the run with them to catch up. IMHO, it’s the best way to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, next time you have the urge to call a running friend to catch up, maybe suggest going for a run. That way, you can do what you love with the people you love while also venting about your crazy manager, your mother-in-law, and your neighbor who plays EDM music every night...at 2am because that’s the good stuff.
MEET YOUR BEST RUNNING FRIEND:
Chloe is a runner, writer, and actor from The Windy City. She has a BA with honors in Theater and Chinese from the College of William and Mary, and an MFA in Acting (feeling her feelings at a pro-level!) from the New School for Drama. When she wasn’t memorizing lines, you could find her running along the west side highway or in Central Park in NYC. Chloe is currently a member of the sketch comedy house team, Option 7, at The PIT. Chloe and her writing have been featured on Comedy Central, Amazon Prime, Funny or Die, and College Humor. She still thinks running her first marathon was like Christmas Day, but better. Learn more about her acting and writing at www.chloeelizabethlewis.com and follow her running jokes and escapades on Instagram @yourbestrunningfriend.