One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is the width, and depth, of the running community. There was a time when I figured that my passion was somewhat aberrational. But one thing the Internet teaches is that there are no aberrational passions. Whatever it is, a Google search will find scores of people even more obsessed.
And so it is with running. I click-through links of the ever-widening running blogosphere and find people of all levels of experience and speed discussing the minutia of workouts and training programs. People putting in 70, 80, 90 miles and more and mixing in all manner of speed- and hill-work to accomplish the simple goal of being the best runners they can be.
I found this somewhat when I was coaching a local club. We had a core of regulars for our weekly speed session and every member worked as hard as every other member without regard to pace.
I perhaps felt most interconnected in November 2007 after the death of Ryan Shay at the OT in New York. I was at that race and hear of Shay’s death after it was over when someone said that Shay had died. The thought spread of having a Ryan Shay memorial run of 5.5 miles — the distance he covered before he died — on November 17, and my club used its regular Saturday run, which happened to be about 5.5 miles, for that purpose. The point being that I was one of many who personally felt a loss as a member of the wider “community,” as I had felt the joy of the race run so well by another Ryan, Hall, on that day.
So I find myself wandering in and out of the various musings of others, some running-related, some not, writing of the day-to-day minutia that we are all heir to. So I see one club member throwing down the gauntlet about another club member, another runner who I see on the roads once in a while (and to whom I’ve spoken but once) but know from her blog heading out to do a run I’m too wimpy to try, and a third person wondering whether it’s time to set off with some fellow travelers to create a new club with which he is more simpatico.
What’s great about these blogs, and addictive, is the extent to which they offer insights in a way you get when you stumble upon a collection of letters that contain references to the mundane as well as the substantial. (Facebook and other social-network sites have certain elements of this too.) But as one of the persons just mentioned noted recently, a blogger is a fool if she thinks anyone cares about what she writes. What freedom that gives us.