When I started running, I knew one person that ran regularly. After a few years, I had many friends that run. Some I have made because we became running partners first. Through the many hours on the road, chatting it up, we became close friends. Other runners that I know were aquaintances or old friends before I began running; I just never knew they were runners. After I became hooked on running, it's as if there was a whole newfound camaraderie with us, as if we had this "inside knowledge" about something that noone else knew: running is fun!
I soon learned something else; talking to non-runners about running is difficult and often not worth the effort. No matter what, it was as if they just could not understand or maybe didn't care enough to try. Running is like no other topic in these regards. It feels as if there is a deep understanding among others in the sport, whether they are fast or slow, run short races or long. A runner who is truly committed is a runner who is truly committed, no matter how they engage in the sport.
Maybe we are a little crazy; that sure is the way that the non-runner can make us feel sometimes. Any minor ache that we recite aloud to the non-runner, especially a sedentary person, is a perfect reason for us to stop running to them and, rest assured, they will tell you immediately and ask you to join them for beer, nachos and a couch. Soon the runner learns to only talk about our minor (or sometimes major) aches and pains to other runners, because they are the only ones who understand. Other runners are the only ones that we can trust to give us an honest response of whether or not we really need to rest a nagging ache or pain. This is how the camaraderie stays so strong. Other runners (and sometimes other athletes, mostly in other endurance sports) are the only ones who can understand the need to continue by whatever means necessary to get the feeling of release, of freedom, of power, etc. that we get from running. Runners know that the ultimate goal is to be able to continue to run now, but also to continue to run forever.
Runners are a rare breed...and I am honored to be one of them.
Happy running : )