I like to work on the theory that everyone is, basically, a decent human being. That they can do the right thing, be helpful, honest and generally an all-round nice person to interact with. Due to running being good for you and raising the endorphins etc… I had assumed that everyone in the running community would be nice and, to my surprise, this has generally been the case.
For perspective on my surprise, I worked in a male dominated sports industry for many years. I was treated differently because I was female (by men and women, this isn’t some secret man bashing post). When I say differently what I mean by that is the men could come in high on drugs, late, do half the work or avoid the work they didn’t fancy doing, repeatedly sleep with customers who then never came back and get paid the same and even get promoted! This behaviour was not just tolerated, but actively encouraged by the other male managers and some of the female staff. Again, for perspective, there were 8 managers and one was female and she was the boss’s wife. I could go on and list hundreds of other examples, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about positivity.
When I joined the running community (i.e. I started running, there isn’t some secret initiation ceremony or anything) I started noticing more people out running. There seemed to be hundreds of them! They were everywhere. In the parks, on the canals, at the side of the road, in Tesco clad in Lycra and so forth and so on. All the Lycra clad legs beating the pavements and everyone looking so happy. I have never seen an unhappy runner, even in the pouring rain or sleet or snow. And now I was one of them! It was like joining a secret club, but minus the secret handshake. Once you start running you see other runners everywhere, they pop out of the ground like bright little flowers. Now I was the weird happy person out at 5:30am dressed in Lycra and looking like the happiest person on the plant. I was part of something, part of a community.
We runners nod or say hello or smile or wave at each other as we pass. It doesn’t matter if you are running hell for leather up-hill looking for a PB or are pootling round the park with your toddler in tow. We will smile at each other, do that little nod of “well done mate, keep going” and carry on with our run. If we are both on the cool down or warm up walk then we will have a quick chat. We’ll chat about the weather (we are British after all), what run we are doing, if we are training for a race or not and sometimes we’ll chat about kit. Kit we are wearing, new kit the other person is wearing and how it fits/does it work/was it a good deal etc. We’ll chat about the run being easy or being hard. If we are injured or not. Recovery plans. The best sports physio. Nutrition. The latest fads. The list seems endless. It’s like having 100’s of topics suddenly open to you simply because you popped on a pair of trainers and jogged out the door. When you run you automatically become part of a new community.
Online communities – I normally avoid these like the plague. This is due to spending years on forums being condescended to by people who all seemed to want to outdo each other on who was the biggest knob and seeing others who wanted to just post selfies of them exercising in full makeup, with not a bead of sweat and in as little clothing as possible. It made me hate humans. I’d ask a question on a forum and get a barrage of abuse or end up feeling so patronised that I’d not bother going back. Or I’d comment on a topic I knew the answer to and get a barrage of abuse. It was like wading through the bottom feeding scum of the human race.
Running communities are different places though. You do still get the odd ummmm twat, for want of a better word, but on the whole, everyone is fairly helpful. I am on a few forums such as Virtual Runner, The Ultra Running Community and Running Discussion Forum. The Ultra Running Community are dead helpful and I cannot rate them enough. Everyone on there seems to be on there because they love ultra-running and are keen to share their knowledge with someone like me – a total noob. Virtual Runner is also fab. You can sign up for races, some of the money goes to charity and there are lots of people doing 5k, 10k and a bit further type races. The Running Discussion board is full of pretty much everyone from casual joggers to people doing marathons. Their advice is, overall, helpful and useful.
There are a few idiots and a few people who just want to make themselves feel better by attempting to make you feel bad, but these people are very rare.
The best community I have found is Tough Girl Tribe – those ladies are not only helpful, but also incredibly inspiring. Some of the challenges they are undertaking are breath taking and these are normal women with normal jobs and lives just looking to test themselves or do something to see if they can. There are hundreds of podcasts from hundreds of different women doing hundreds of different challenges and then sharing their experiences, advice and generally being a bunch of positive, awe inspiring women.
The running society is huge. It’s got millions of people in it and at least 99% of them are wonderful, friendly and helpful. It’s like a breath of fresh air!