I’ve never met a runner I didn’t like

  • This was printed in January of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 33rd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

Happy New Year! A few weeks ago I thought I’d be filling this entire column with

suggestions about running resolutions. However, I realize that you’re not going to resolve

to run a 5K this year (or a 10K or a half marathon or a marathon or every day or three

days a week or any other amount or distance) just because “that runner girl from the

paper” told you to.

So if your New Year’s resolution was to run, congratulations and welcome to the club! If

not, well, taking up running or any other physical activity can be done any time

throughout the year. There’s no rule that says you have to begin Jan. 1.

As promised, I’m going to share another reason why people run — from the mouths of

runners themselves. Last week I asked dozens of runners why they run and I began to see

a few trends in their responses.

Runak Ghazi, of Fresno, said she runs for the feeling she gets afterward, and also,

“because of the people I meet. Runners are very welcoming, no matter what your ability

is.”

Janet Manuszak-Lucido, of Fresno, said running is her “day-starter” and “drug of

choice,” that she never does alone.

“I run three days a week, always with at least one friend,” she said. “We talk, we bond,

we commiserate, but many times we just run. I have a knee issue that does not allow for

daily running, but with three days a week I was able to train enough to run my first

marathon in November — with my awesome friends alongside.”

I’ll save the entire response of fellow journalist Juan Esparza, editor of Vida en el Valle,

for a future column. But his last statement rings true for myself and many other runners:

“I’ve found a new family in fellow runners.”

Christina Saldivar, who became a runner in June and ran her first half marathon — the

Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon — in September, agrees.

“I run because I love my running family,” she said. “I do not think I have ever had the

continued support that I get from them.”

Melody Boates, of Clovis, says the incredible feeling of completing a run is amplified

when running with other people.

“I hold runners with a much higher respect than other athletes because I think it takes a

certain solid type of person to be able to do the same thing with your whole entire body

for a long period of time, without the assistance of anything else,” she said.

Personally, I hold runners in a higher respect because I think they are the friendliest, most

welcoming, and most encouraging people on the planet.

I have never met a runner I didn’t like.

Yes, some runners are competitive, but at the end of the race the most competitive ones

are the ones reaching to hug their opponents or give them a congratulatory high-five.

If you fall, another runner will pick you up. If you run out of water, another runner will

offer you theirs. If you’re just having a tough day and a bad run, another runner will

know exactly what to say to motivate you and make it all better.

The group I run with — my running family — is a mix of people of all different abilities

and paces, but my coach always organizes our runs so that no one gets left behind. The

lead runners run back to the slowest runner so that we can regroup, or we run a loop

course on which we’ll pass each other frequently. At our weekend trail runs in the

foothills of Fresno and Madera counties, we run for a designated time up the trail, then

turn around and run back, eventually meeting up together at the end of the trail within a

few minutes of each other.

There’s no better feeling than finishing a run with a bunch of sweaty, smiling faces

congratulating you — and then taking a picture with your running family to capture that

joy.

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