Social Running

I took a little break from running after completing a half-marathon in Nashville a few weeks ago. And then I had oral surgery (dental implant), and during a recovery period, couldn’t run. So I ended up going a little over 2 weeks between running 13.1 miles and my next run, of 4 miles. It’s been beautiful–high time for running. Warm but not too warm. Sunny.

I realized something when in Nashville for the half about my running. First, I should note that I rarely have motivations that are not in some way social. Not necessarily directly and in a micro kind of a way, but more about being in a community, being part of something that is social. And I had thought of running as a way to maintain some of my friendships and relationships, a connection of that sort. But I hadn’t realized how much my running habits had, somewhat by nature of the city and community I live in, been social. I trained all on my own. I didn’t have anyone to go on runs with, and the only runs I went on while training were when I was visiting someone.

But I run at a track. And I realized I had been studying the people at this track, and the culture there. The middle of the track has a soccer field, and there is a Polish population north of the park where the track is, and a Mexican population nearby, as well as I believe Dominican/Puerto Rican (really, you can’t go far in New York without there being a Dominican or Puerto Rican population…).

So the Poles and Mexicans often are out in what seem to be pretty organized soccer games, and then there are the runners. The soccer players are regularly accompanied by their wives/girlfriends/children. So there are lots of kids playing around, acting as though the track is no different than any other piece of land. And the soccer balls come flying onto the track with some regularity. It is kind of beautiful, though I have been hit (really hard) by a wild soccer ball, which was somewhat annoying. But I realize that I actually sort of relish the mix of populations. Awesome. It’s what I love about New York. So my running is social. Just in a cultural exploration kind of a way.