The thing about runners is that the definition of "running friends" can be pretty fluid. The truth is that anyone you see while out on a run with sneakers on their feet moving at anything more than a standstill is your running friend. You say good morning, give them a smile if you're unable to speak, or stick your hand out for a high five as you pass by. It isn't something you're told when you start to run, it's just something that seems to come naturally when you're out there on the trail, pickin' 'em up and puttin' 'em down.
I'm so fortunate that my running friends are also my "friend friends" - over the last three and a half years of living in NW Arkansas, the people who welcomed me to their group when I showed up new in town and with whom I've run ever since have also become the people I choose to spend time with on the weekends, ask for professional advice, vent about life's frustrations, and celebrate life's successes together. When I changed jobs this past spring, having friends who didn't care who I worked for or what I did for a living made it that much easier to manage the transition.
This past week, I saw the power of running friends bridge across two of my social circles. There happened to be a meeting that brought a friend from P&G to town, a friend who has become an avid triathlete and runner over the last few years. He sent me a note and asked if I wanted to get together and run while he was in town - of course I did!! - and I naturally asked him to join not just me but the group of friends I run with.
Tuesday and Wednesday morning, a little after 5AM, we met and headed out for our runs together. It didn't matter that it was the first time Michael had met the group; as soon as he showed up in a tech shirt and sneakers, he was a friend. The conversation was as natural and easy as it is on any given weekday morning, and it was such a joy for me to be able to spend time with him doing one of my favorite things.
The ties that bind friends together are different for all of us. Mine just happen to be made of shoelaces.