Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. – Luke 12:27
Nothing says springtime like flowering trees, green grass, blue skies, and buzzing bees. Everything is waking up from the winter sleep and bursting forth in glorious color. These are the sort of days where school children long to be outside instead of in the classroom. Inside air feels stale and stagnant compared to the fresh breezes and warm sunshine.
And on the running trails coming out of hibernation, runners are back in full force. Where were they all when Kansas was snow and ice? Did they head south for the winter? The trails are more cheery now and the miles feel less lonely when you are passing other runners with a smile, head nod, or slight hand wave. I’m usually too breathless too say much in passing. Or it’s awkward to say anything because you’re strangers to one another, but there is a shared interest so you could almost be friends, maybe for just a moment.
Smile, nod, wave. Smile, nod, wave. It’s the unwritten code of cordiality between runners. You’re running. I’m running. Smile, nod, wave. And keep running in your own direction.
But what if one day you didn’t? What if you talked? What if you turned and ran a few paces with them? Well, you might get a breathless reply. You might startle the pants off someone. You might cross the line of what’s socially acceptable. If you want to talk, go to a group run. Join a club. If you are a solo runner, then silence on the trail. Isn’t that the rule? Smile, nod, wave.
And I get it. Running is not a team sport. I don’t mean to be anti-social on the trail, but the problem is that’s not why I came. I came to run – not to meet people. I’m usually too focused on my pace, my legs, my breathing, the pain in my hamstring, the distance traveled, how much time I have left. There is so much going on in my head that when another runner comes around the corner, I’m not fit for intelligent conversation. I usually follow the “speak only when spoken to” rule.
After months of solitary running, the trails seemed busy and alive yesterday. I saw the men’s and women’s cross country team, several people with dogs, couples, older walkers, younger runners. I really wanted to talk to the women’s cross country team. What was their workout for today? They were so fast. It was inspiring.
The trees and the flowers are brushing away the coldness of winter. Isn’t it time to shake off the coldness between runners and share more than just the trail? A few words can go a long way. When the trails were empty, there wasn’t much opportunity to share a kind word. But it’s springtime now and the trails are no longer my own.
This is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m competitive and driven. I’m very deeply stuck in my standard, smile, nod, wave. And I’m wary of strangers. But if I really want to be a light in the world, if I really want to meet other runners, if I really want to share my blog and my pictures with people, then shouldn’t I break out of my running shell and at least say hi every once in a while? I’m still struggling with this idea. And I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
What do you do when you meet other runners? Do you smile, nod, wave? Or do you say hello?
PS. These pear blossoms are so lovely, don’t you think? My daughter said they looked like miniature bouquets. I think they look fit for a spring wedding. Just beautiful!