We do, don’t we? I spotted this graffiti while running the other day and it seemed fitting. Because runners are misfits, when you think about it. And I mean that in the best way possible. Let me explain…
I started long-distance running in middle school, when I got cut from the volleyball team and decided to join the tryout-free cross country team instead. What I found was a lifelong passion and a group of the most fun, weird and welcoming people I’d ever met. Cross country kids weren’t beefy enough to play football, coordinated enough to play volleyball or maybe just not into traditional team sports. Whatever the reason, we didn’t fit in anywhere else, so we joined a sport that accepts all and teaches them how to persevere and push through each mile with individual strength—and lots of cheering.
Suddenly, we weren’t misfits anymore. We had a new group of friends and a new goal to work toward: our fastest finishing time race after race. The friends I made through the sport because my closest friends in high school, and not just during the season. I can’t imagine how different my teenage years would have been without cross country.
Now, as an adult, I still like to think of runners as misfits. Oddballs who baffle their friends by staying in on Friday night to wake up early for 15-mile runs the next day. Those looking for camaraderie can join running clubs, and those seeking solitude can hit the trails alone. Running is accommodating like that.
Come race day—whether it’s a marathon, half marathon or 5K—all of these misfits come together to tackle their own personal goals. And whenever I’m standing in the starting chute at some absurdly early time in the morning, surrounded by hundreds or thousands of fellow runners, I feel like I’m among my people. Even if I don’t say a word to anyone the whole race.
YOUR TURN: Why did you start running?