One of the primary reasons I fell in love with running, biking, and swimming is the connections they have brought into my life. The vast majority of my friendships have come about because of a shared love of a sport that keeps us active, fit, and healthy. In the current environment, one factor in maintaining good health is taking measures to stay apart. For many of us, that is a big bummer.
Just about any runner will agree that nothing makes the miles drift quickly behind you like a great conversation with a fellow runner. We laughingly say that “what’s said on the trail stays on the trail.” Jobs, relationships, dreams, and fears are all discussed with a good running buddy. If you need to pick up the intensity, religion and politics are not off limits.
One of my most memorable conversations was had while sharing a run with a man who held firmly to the belief that there is no God. I, on the other hand, hold firmly to the fact (see what I did there?) that there is a God, and He loves us. You would think these opposing viewpoints would be a recipe for disaster. In fact, it was a fabulous conversation, and I ended up running a pretty quick 8 miles. Neither one of us was thinking about pace or pain. We simply were so engrossed in our conversation that before we knew it, we reached the end of our run. After that run, we’ve discussed politics, global warming, and funny movies. We had a fair amount of agreement on the funny movies topic.
I’m digressing a bit here, but I have to tell you this story – speaking of funny movies. One frigid winter evening, a group of us met at a local park for a run. Thankfully, the park had a building that was open, so we could pop inside to warm up and use the restroom. My self-proclaimed atheist friend took the opportunity to use the restroom while many of us sprawled out onto the floor to rest or stretch. As my friend came out of the restroom, I noticed there was a stream of toilet paper attached to his sweat pants. I chuckled a bit, got up, and discreetly told him he may want to ditch the TP that was clinging to his pants. His response was quick and classic, “Why thank you, nice lady.” I burst out laughing, immediately getting his Sheriff Buford T. Justice reference from the truck stop scene in Smokey and the Bandit. I laughed so hard that I fell to the ground and rolled back and forth on the floor. I’m pretty sure tears rolled down my face. To this day, I can’t help but smile when I think of that quick come back. This is a moment and a friendship I never would have had if it weren’t for running.
I’m on a roll now. I have to tell you one more funny conversation that came about while running with a friend. It came about because runners tend ask fellow runners if they know of a good chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist. A few years back, I was looking for a massage therapist; so while on a run my friend told me about the woman she see for massage. She said her massage therapist did a good job of working out the typical runner’s kinks. “She’s about ninety,” my friend said. “Ninety?!” I exclaimed. “Holy crap! She’s ninety?” I pictured my friend lying on a massage table as a frail, elderly woman wearing a Little House on the Prairie style dress (I don’t know why I pictured that), barely presses into the aching muscles of my friend. I can only guess what my friend was thinking, but it was probably something like, I don’t know why $90 is that big of a deal for a good massage therapist. It suddenly struck me that the ninety was referring to dollars and not age. I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt! That still cracks me up, and I love telling that story. Although these conversations may be “you had to be there” situations, I am certain that if you had been on a run with us, you’d be laughing too.
Biking and swimming with friends have also brought about good laughs and great conversations. It’s because of fellow cyclists that I have discovered beautiful routes that take me through some of the prettiest parts of our state. My swimmer friends introduced me to a local (yet surprisingly well-hidden), pristine lake, removing any trepidation I may have had about open water swimming. It’s these connections that make running, biking, and swimming more than just exercise. They are experiences that we want to continue sharing with others.
With current health concerns and the importance of social distancing, I think we can come up with some ways to stay connected while participating in the sports we love.
- Schedule a time when both you and a friend can go for a run, but instead of meeting in person, connect by phone. Tips related to that are:
- Make sure your phone has plenty of battery life.
- Keep one ear bud out if on the road.
- Ride your bike indoors with people from all around the world by getting on Zwift or TrainerRoad. While on your trainer, you can join group rides, races, or even schedule meet ups with specific cyclists using these apps, allowing you to talk or text to communicate. Even without Zwift or TrainerRoad, you can connect by phone or video and encourage each other to push the watts!
- Use your video chat feature while you and a friend each do a strength work out at home. Challenge and encourage each other to go one more rep.
I have no doubt there are more great ideas on how we can stay connected while also apart. Whatever method we choose, let’s be sure to connect in a way that makes each mile an experience that we could never have had on our own.
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