When I want to get together with my friend Tinea to catch up with what’s been going on in our lives, we don’t meet for lunch or coffee. We go for a run.
It doesn’t cost anything, we get a great workout, and our conversation is so much more invigorating when we’re on the move. Before you know it — way before we run out of stuff to talk about — we’re at the end of the route. I head off to work feeling so energized I don‘t even need my morning coffee. (Though I usually drink it anyway, out of habit.)
This isn’t a knock against the “Ladies Who Lunch” generation. I can understand the appeal of trying a new restaurant or menu item, of letting someone else do the cooking. Obviously I love to talk and write and think about food.
But there’s just something about running that jostles your mind, shaking out ideas and connections you might not make otherwise.
That’s certainly been my experience with my sister. Our conversations go so much better now that we run together. We instinctively steer clear of topics where there might be friction, acknowledging those rocky spaces exist in our relationship but framing them in terms of our different personalities — which increasingly feels like an asset, a fresh perspective on whatever problem we‘re trying to solve during that day’s run. It’s just not the right environment for a subterranean seethe or residual resentment, much less an actual argument.
I love getting plugged into an emerging network of women whose impulse is to socialize in ways that expend energy — whether it‘s running or walking, biking or ice skating, or even hula hooping, the latest pet project of yet another frenetic friend, Jen* (wife of Ian, “The Piano Man.”)
But nobody is as energetic as Tinea, who organizes fun runs for her kids’ birthday parties, family triathlons in lieu of cookouts and is always arranging for somebody — or several somebodies, of either sex — to stop by her house for a morning run.
On Saturday, when my work schedule brings me into town at what other people might consider an appallingly inconvenient hour, Tinea wanted to go out for exercise even though she had a sore muscle.
“I’ll ride my bike while you run,“ she suggested. “That way I’ll still get some exercise, and we can ‘catch up’ a bit.“
I was dubious. But it wound up being a great run. We talked over our fall home schooling plans, and I pushed myself harder than usual, trying to go fast enough so she’d be able to spend more time pedaling instead of coasting.
My social running circuit isn’t as impressive as Andrea Hoverman’s, who ran a marathon with four friends in May. But it’s fun to be headed down that same path.
*Coincidentally, today is Jen’s birthday. Happy birthday, Jen!