Besides the obvious physical benefits that running has provided me, in my twenties I learned that running scored me post collegiate friends, skills to pay the bills and a handsome hubby. Now, I can’t say it was all because of running that I gained these wonderful things, but I can certainly point to a few examples where had I not been a runner, or involved in the running community, opportunities would not have presented themselves.
Example 1: My first real job.
When I was an intern at National Geographic, the director of development (my future direct boss) was wearing a timex running watch. Seeing it, I simply asked, “are you a runner?” She was surprised I noticed and told me she was training for the Chicago marathon. This led us to talk about training, her group and her goals. It was fantastic to have running as a bridge on a personal level to someone who would hire me about a month later. I think having this in common helped a tremendous amount.
Example 2: Re-uniting at my loneliest time
When I first moved to Seattle I knew no one. An old friend from high school, who I ran with on the cross country and track teams, contacted me via facebook to let me know that she also had just moved to Seattle! She is two years younger than me so we probably would not have known each other outside of high school running. Turns out skiing was also something we had in common and that first year was incredible with all the skiing I did with Christy (who I get to see in DC in April!) Christy would later allow me to live in her apartment for free while she was out to sea on NOAA adventures, which was probably the kindest gift anyone has ever given me.
Example 3: The other fantastic friends I made in Seattle
I stuck to my promise to myself that I would start running again when I moved to Seattle, I looked up running organization and joined the Seattle Running Club that had both a cross country team (where I met Marisa, my first new friend in Seattle) and a Tuesday night group run. At the time, that Tuesday group was a bunch of rowdy 20-30 something mostly single guys and girls who would run 6 miles, get pizza and beer and then continue the party at the bar, Barca, until late hours of the night. If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you’d know that this is where I met my husband. My husband happens to be something of a cornerstone of that group, one of the longterm members and the most reliable runner. Some of the members don’t run as often anymore, but we see each other all the time through group trips, cocktail parties, and other events that we throw just so we can all hangout.
Example 4: Gave me real world experience early in life
I was lucky that I got into running before high school, it gave me a taste of success outside of grades and showed me that what I put into something is often equal to what I get out of it. It kept me focused on goals and taught me how to handle disappointment gracefully. It also taught me that there are second chances and (cheesy moment) that working as a team, even if all personalities don’t mesh, can get real results. These are skills that are so important in the working world, skills that I see many people shockingly don’t have.
I never have a short answer to the question, “why do you run?” there are many reasons, some that involve escapism, solitude, community, and feelings of accomplishment and value, but overall running helps provide a focus in my life that is hard for me to live without.
If you’re a runner, or any other type of athlete, how has it paid off for you?