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I don’t know about you but I have made some real friends through running. Over the years being able to share a common experience over and over again has brought me together with people from all walks of life that I would not have gotten to know otherwise. There is something satisfying about sharing a bond with someone. Running has made a community of these bonds all over the world. This is a beautiful form of magic.

For the first 8 years I ran I almost exclusively ran by myself… I avoided all school-related sport team running experiences. No matter how many times a coach saw me running by the school or in the neighborhood and asked me to join a team I always said no. I did not want to add stress and competition to one of my favorite meditative activities. I kept my running a solitary experience all the way until my freshman year in college.

In college, however, I met a certain young woman. We lived in the same dorm complex and she saw me running a lot. She was not what you would call a shy person. One day I sat down in the dining hall to eat a late breakfast (I barely squeaked in in time to get some food thrown on my plate before they shut down the kitchen). This young woman came in a few minutes after me (and poured herself some cereal because the kitchen was closed) and sat down right across from me. I said hello (you have to picture that a very long table was entirely empty except for me and we did not yet know each other) and she introduced herself. She almost immediately told me she had seen me running from the dorms and asked me if I wanted to go running with her… I said yes and before I could almost finish my response she asked me what time I was free that day. I said 8pm and she said she would see me then. She got up shortly after that and left. She was a very fast eater.

The two of us ran together two or three times a week for that whole school year. It was kind of fun. I ended up also running with other friends that year and I am not sure I would have thought to ask someone to go for a run if someone had not first asked me to go for a run. Next thing you know I was running with my girlfriend. Then I was in the army running in formation. Then I was on a race team running with the team. Then I started doing local 5Ks and 10ks. Then I was in a running club. All the while I was running with other people after a very long period of only running by myself. I made quite a few friends from running. And as we all know, “friendship is magic.”

When I think back to my first running friend it makes me smile. We talked about soviet training techniques (she was from Russia) and how they differed from popular coaching philosophies here in the states. We talked about food while we were running. And of course we spent many a run arguing about music and film. Honestly, it really was magic.

So I offer a big thank you to all the friends I have made running. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the support. And thank you for a host of experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.

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