Having a running companion not only creates accountability, but it also has a way of breaking down walls, allowing for unique bonds to be established… by letting your guards down you are able to connect and relate to your running partner(s). Things that might normally separate you (vocation, age, gender, etc) lose their effect while running.
– Mile 6. Companionship.
This past spring I had the privilege of coaching a track team. We were a small team. So small in fact, there were some meets where opposing teams brought more coaches than we brought athletes. To some this size may have been a disadvantage and in some ways I cannot disagree. We were not capable of fielding a girls relay team simply because we did not have enough girls on the team! However, as the season began to gain momentum I truly cherished the size of our team.
One distinct advantage of our size, was that on certain days we were capable of going on runs as one group, a thing we eventually called our ‘family runs.’ These runs were special to me not only because they let me run with them – but more so because each runner seemed to care more about the success of the others, than their own success. After each split high-fives were exchanged and people were asking if goals were met. Their times and goals were not as important as their teammate’s times and goals.
Another great advantage to our family runs was the unique role each runner filled. Jason always seemed to ask the questions – what were people doing on the weekend, what big tests were coming up, who was crushing on who. Lindsay provided the consistency that made everyone else feel at ease. The consistency was seen not just in her running, but in life. Her updates on pop-culture brought entertainment to the others (and provided me with a lot of facts I could spout out to act like I knew what was going on). Samantha provided the stories…that generally had no real point whatsoever – at least not that anyone else could find. Kip, the youngest of the crew, would easily take any conversation in the most random of directions. Whether it was sharing his dreams to create a music album, or chasing a nearby gopher, Kip kept everyone on their toes (both of those happened during one 400m recovery).
As I have been reflecting on our season, I find the above quote from the book extremely applicable. Each member of our family runs is in a different grade. A typical day could pass without us sharing more than a quick glance in the halls while moving from class to class. All have different schedules and class loads. During the school day there is very little that connects them. Yet, get them out on the running trail, and you have a family running together.