At any given time I could write a blog post about running. There’s so much I could say about it I can’t choose – so I don’t. This one though feels ripe, as on the surface it’s about running, but a little bit under that it’s about finding friends around the world.
I’ve been testing this theory for years now, but now I’m calling it:
I’ve never met a runner I didn’t like.
“OK, so what?”… you may be asking, but – it’s actually quite significant if you keep moving to different places all over the world. Hear me out…
Back in 2015, Family Wilson found themselves back home in the UK after 3 years in Malaysia. We were back amongst friends and family so whilst there was no desperate need to find new friends, there still was a need. Of course, being a mum of 2 small children I expected to turn up at the school gates and appear instantly beguiling to all the mums there. Of course, no one was in the slightest bit interested. Why would they be? I wouldn’t have noticed me stood there, all “expatty” and expectant. They didn’t need new friends – I did. I was going to have to work for that, it was a long game (and it turned out I didn’t have long to play).
So, after digging in for the mum friend long game, by being a sticky beak and poking around in things that didn’t really concern me, I ended up meeting the people responsible for organising the amazing fun run in our town. From there I managed to associate myself with people with way more balls and vision than myself and ended up among them as they set up a community running club. I was there for that! It was amazing. Suddenly I was finding myself outside the community centre at various times with around 30+ other local people ready to run.
In the first instance, these people made running way more fun. As time went on they helped me run faster. They helped me get PBs often by giving up their own, they made me laugh as they dragged me through bogs; they let me cry on them once even before a race (I’m quite high maintenance). I REALLY liked them.
I really liked ALL of them. All kinds of runners, fast, slow, chatty, quiet, LEDGENDARY, beginners, people who may well have run out of their cots and maybe will never stop.
Then, a few months later my husband told me we were going to be moving again to America (we were sat in Burger King at the time in Butlins, Bognor Regis). I think after swearing at him for a few minutes I actually said in a squeaky, teary voice… “but… the running club” (sob).
Anyway, cut forward to w/c April 8th, I arrive in Mason, Ohio. Having done a little bit of googling, I found a group of runners training for a half and full marathon called The Flying Pig. There I was still jet lagged and a bit sad in my old running club t-shirt in a running shop with a group of American runners about to do a track work-out.
The first person I saw was a happy looking runner in an orange hat and vest. I can’t remember what he said or what I said but within about 30 seconds I knew I liked him. I went out with these runners and did 10 x 200m sprints in a jet-lagged fug. Due to it being actual midnight in my brain, if not my legs I don’t remember a whole lot about that day but I know I felt happy. Later that evening I signed up for the Flying Pig half and a few weeks after that I ran it thanks to those people in that shop.
Cut forward to 3 months in and I’m training for the Columbus marathon with a group lead by the aforementioned happy chap in orange and a whole load of others. I like them. I like them all. In fact repeat that previous bit above verbatim.
I’ve crossed 3 continents and still have never met a runner I didn’t like.
This is brilliant. It’s global! When people ask me how I’m settling into American life, if I’ve made friends, the answer is all about the runners. What a brilliant trick for life in general; if you want to find your people… go find the runners or whoever else loves the nutty things you like. I guess it’s not rocket science, but like I said, it’s brilliant.
And just a little add.. among all these runners I like are the ones who run pretty much at your exact pace, who train for a marathon alongside you even though their miles are thousands of miles away from yours, who listen to your doubts and talk you straight out of them. The ones that make you laugh in the face of a week with 45 miles in it. If you find one like that, then you are especially lucky.
To all the runners I know and those I don’t yet. To all the runners who welcome jetlagged, home sick Brits into their group. To all the runners: