Why do runners always talk about running?
In the mid-1990s, as a young runner, I started to compete in running races. They were less common then comparing to nowadays and the participation was scarce, almost exclusive. As an inexperienced rookie I’d started to learn tricks and secrets from the old timers, who’d move from race to race contending for prestigious local laurels. This fun and interesting company took me as one of their own. Week to week, weekend to weekend I’d really enjoyed meeting them at the start, competing on racetrack, discussing, exchanging opinions and talking enthusiastically. About what? About running, of course.
I’ve never imagined that you can have a whole hour of conversation about a few seconds you can gain in one kilometer. Or about a new way of tying shoelaces, overtaking uphill, the thickness of socks and carboloading. Even about the color of a t-shirt which matches the brand-new model of Nike shoes. If you wanted to be among the “hallowed” you had to have an opinion about gels, insoles, watches and pulse monitors. I admit that it felt good. It was a whole new world to me. Finally, I got a lot of useful tips and information which I’d never get without these conversations. The books were too boring and unrealistic, and the internet was still in its early stages.
In a few seasons I’d met most of Slovenian recreational runners and their peculiarities. Sometimes I would smirk because I’d managed to predict who will start a conversation about particular theme and passionately defend it. These sly foxes obviously didn’t reveal everything or they tactically concealed what they were doing to confuse rivalry. As a rule, everybody kept silent at least about a half of trainings they’d done in the last month. Typically, if you asked “How much have you been training?” you would get a classic answer “You know, recently not much. My tendon is hurting and I also work night shifts. About two times a week, not once more.” Every second was injured and every third was at work the whole day or had just recovered from a flu. I was a student, everyday on the road and completely healthy, but at running I’ve never been even close to these veterans! And then I’ve read them like a book and started this game myself. Sometimes I’d pick an old rival to pull his leg before the race and when he thought he’d finally crushed me I’d happily leave him behind at the last uphill.
I’ve grown up over the years, reached my running peak and gradually taken interest in something else than daily training, weekend races and waiting for the washing machine to finish its job. I started visiting the races selectively, aiming to be in a good company and not to collect more achievements. In the meantime, running has obtained a mass interest and conversations at races have mainly stuck around running. The Internet was full of educated experts and the new runners didn’t hide kilometers they’ve run anymore, they rather bragged about it. Too many times – to the point that even a coincidental user of the social media would reach his/her threshold for pain while reading that. The conversations with the runners have also become more exhausting because I could barely explain to some new enthusiasts that the world wouldn’t end if his 16-week marathon plan won’t actualize to the accuracy of one second.
Nevertheless, the runners will always talk about running. Especially Slovenes are known for turning into fanatics sooner or later after discovering a new activity. So, we, the old and slow veterans, have a task to explain the youth that running is anything other than just physical and mental focus – on tail end of running races there is a quite high density of girls who like to talk. And not only about running!