Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rewarding Interactions with Strangers while Running

Running on the roads can be a dangerous venture, with drivers who are more interested in paying attention to their phones than actually driving and individuals who stubbornly refuse to yield an inch to a runner who has no recourse other than to run on the shoulder of the road because of a lack of sidewalk.  We have had people deliberately drive straddling the white line, forcing us off the shoulder of the road.  We have had drivers come flying up to a stop sign, tap their brakes and fly through the stop, all so they don’t have to wait on us to cross the road.  We have come close to being hit because we have been crossing an intersection and someone who stopped after we were already in the crosswalk blew through the stop as quickly as possible, nearly colliding with us.  Many times, it is deliberate.  Other times, it is out of inattention.  Regardless of the intentions behind the actions, it makes it very difficult to run with comfort.  Alertness and awareness are hugely important, every time we step out the front door to go running.

Despite this danger, there exist those people who are the exact opposite: those drivers who communicate with us, even if it is just with a hand signal, so we know what they are doing and they know what we are doing.  They are aware of us out there, giving us room to safely run on the shoulder when we have no other recourse.  They pay attention to the road and driving instead of everything but.  We appreciate this type of driver very much.  We also appreciate the positive, uplifting people with whom we come in contact when we are running.

In the beginning, many people were rude and negative, making nasty comments as we would run.  Now, however, we come across many more people willing to communicate words of encouragement while we run.  This past week, a fellow runner commented to my husband that he was out there running because of the motivation my husband demonstrated by getting out there nearly every day and running.  A lady drove past me the other day and asked if the man she sees running all the time is my husband.  She then asked me how much weight he has dropped since he started running, to which I answered 57 lbs.  (On a side note, my husband was a powerlifter for several years with a LOT of muscle mass.  He still carries a lot of muscle, but he has gradually been dropping the excess mass and weight with all of the running we do.)  Before driving off, the woman shared that people have been taking notice of what we are doing and to keep up the great work.  I thanked her as she drove off.  Earlier that same run, a couple of young men stopped at a four-way stop to let my daughter and me cross the road safely.  As they drove off, they waved and said, “Have a safe run out there!”

I can’t tell you all enough how much of a difference this type of interaction makes.  While we must maintain heightened awareness due to others who are not nearly so considerate with their driving or positive with their words, each interaction we experience that is similar to the above experiences provides a glimpse into the goodness of humanity and exemplifies positive interaction between total strangers.  Thank you to all of you who take that moment to slow down and give space for safe running.  Thank you for the positive comments and the thumbs up you give, the friendly hellos and waves of the hand.  They are appreciated more than you might know and more than we are able to convey.  Keep it up!  Our days are so much brighter because of you!

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