In the ever so short (so far at least) running career that I have had I have come to the same conclusion that many of you have had: Runners are Good People!
I have played a ton of sports and have interacted with many a people during these times. Without a doubt runners are the nicest people. They continually share their experiences and absolutely enjoy talking about their passion just as much as we enjoy talking and listening about it. Nancy hit the nail on the head when she wrote about Governor Mike Huckabee (and runners overall) and stated "And he's a runner.Yes this is speaking to me both personally and professionally". I agree completely. I have run events where people are helping each other out during the race, people they don't even know. Or you are running along and you can hold a conversation with a complete stranger and feel at ease doing so. Or a runner slips and everyone around them jumps in to make sure the person is okay.
I have wondered why this is so much more than other sports (with the exception of athletes that compete in triathlons). The people are the same. I mean oftentimes runners play other sports. I play tennis and many of them are runners as well. But you see them on the tennis court and you will always find the one or two people who sour your experience. Of course there are nice people in every sport, but what makes our running experience more so? I think it all boils down to one thing: we aren't competing against anyone but ourselves. In tennis your sole job is to run your opponent into the ground. In basketball your team needs to school the other team. In football you need to pummel your opponent. In virtually all sports the competitive beast takes a hold of you and there will invariably be sour blood or foul moods. Not so in running, where the only one that you are trying to beat is yourself. So the competition factor is removed, leaving the person running to enjoy the company of other runners, to enjoy conversing on how to run a hill or improve your speed, and all because you are not thinking on how to one up the person you are talking to.
Which leads me to the other great results of such a sport. Since we compete with ourselves, we get to continually strive for PRs, always looking for ways to improve ourselves. It is amazing over time how this turns into results. I originally had a tough time running 2 miles last year, tiring and wanting to quit. I looked at 4 miles and dreaded the thought. Months later I then looked forward to 5 and 6 mile runs. Today I enjoy Half Marathons quite a bit, looking at the distance as something that is entirely doable on a regular basis. As Steve at Jog Blog pointed out with his post Runners: We're All Special: "The point was that we regular runners risk losing sight of the massive achievements we all make in our running on a regular basis that are way beyond what non-runners think they can emulate." We were non-runners at one point and didn't think we could accomplish what we are now accomplishing. When I talk to non-runners and tell them I ran 10 miles the other day, invariably the question is always with disbelief (because of the distance) and almost annoyance (because of the work and effort going into running), "why?". It comes more from them not actually understanding or knowing that they too can get into shape and become athletically fit. That they too, with some hard work, could be able to go out for a morning jog of 5 miles and feel great about it.
I think it is important that we remember these great attributes of such a great sport: the people and our accomplishments. Remembering these makes running all that more important, something I hold dearly to my heart.