Long distance running, especially in training, is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s just downright grueling and overwhelmingly difficult. However, somehow we get through it. Sometimes we make it because the weather is perfect or our energy level is at just the right setting. But, other times (a lot of times) we make it because of something I like to call, “The Runner’s Hello.”
I have noticed, on many occasions, that although it feels like it’s me and Rachel against the world during our training runs, we are never truly running by ourselves. Many times a fellow runner will pass by with a simple acknowledging gesture by way of a smile, nod or polite, “Hello.” Other times it can be a “Keep it up” or a “You’re doing great.” Whatever it may be, it does wonders for our moral. It’s something that might seem insignificant to some people, but to us “The Runner’s Hello” has come to mean something very special.
When our mileage began to increase we started to notice that “The Runner’s Hello” became a significant part of every run. There was one particular instance very recently when me and Rachel were struggling to finish our long run. A runner came toward us going the opposite direction, smiled and said, “You’re doing great. Keep it up.” Rachel and I both smiled back and shouted, “Thank you,” as he passed. I immediately turned to Rachel and exclaimed, “He has no idea what that just did for us!” Rachel laughed and said, “I know!” I think at that moment we both realized that we needed encouragement and motivation and we got it from a fellow runner that didn’t even know who we were. Perhaps that’s what makes it so special. In moments like that I think Rachel and I feel like part of a community filled with people that can easily comprehend the struggles that we encounter with running, but also truly appreciate the joys as well. A simple acknowledging gesture from a fellow runner allows us to feel like we are not alone in our journey.
A lot of people look at running as an unnecessary and ridiculous form of exercise, but oftentimes it’s because they are not runners themselves. Only runners understand runners and it’s important that we always acknowledge each other whenever possible. “The Runner’s Hello” is a way of saying, “Keep it up. You’re doing great,” with something as simple as a nod. The next time you’re out on a run and you see a fellow runner coming your way, don’t be afraid to look up and smile. A smile might just be what that runner needs to finish. Remember, we are all in this together.