But I think the way it brings people together is just the fact that they do it. Just because you run a 14 minute mile and another person runs a 6 minute mile, you're both still running a mile. You both made the decision to get out and go running. When I hear someone say they're not a "real runner" because they haven't ever run a race/half marathon/marathon, I think they are selling themselves short.
That's the thing about running - you can just get up and go. Maybe every day. Maybe every 3 months. You don't need an $100 pair of shoes and GPS watch... they are just fun accessories. If you want increase your speed or milage, those would help but the basis of running is having the will to go. On that first run. Again after a bad run. When you have to get yourself out of your warm bed before the birds are awake. Trust me sometimes it won't happen and that's okay too. Running will always be there for you when you're ready again.
For me a lot of life lessons can be learned through running. Keep going when the going gets tough. Some runs will make you feel on top of the world and others won't. It's about putting one foot in front of the other and discovering you can do more than you had imagined. Ignoring your brain telling you to stop and listening to your heart instead. Being surrounded by others doing the same thing you are and feeling grateful to be a part of a wonderful community just by doing something you love. Getting inspiration from seeing someone do it with less than you have. You are the only one who can keep pushing yourself and that feeling of making itthrough will keep you coming back for more.
This past Saturday was the one year anniversary of Pappy's passing. I decided to do a trail run at Manassas Battlefield - the site of the first battle during the Civil War. My pappy was a huge Civil War buff so it seemed fitting to me. Within the first mile, I was sucking wind after running up a hill. But for me the run was a reminder that I'm grateful to physically be able to do something I enjoy. Feeling my heart beat against my chest, hearing my deep breaths and the pounding of feet below. At the end of run, the song "I Lived" by One Republic came on. I love when running music works out like that :). I run up my last hill and stopped my watch at 5 miles. I felt like throwing up for about 10 seconds. My quads were aching. I was trying to just focus on my breathing. But it all felt GOOD. Because I'm lucky to hear it, feel it and do it. I run because it makes me feel alive - what a sweet feeling in this short life?
And if running doesn't do that for you, I encourage you to find something that does and hold on to it.