We runners run mostly for ourselves.
We give various reasons when asked why we run - to keep fit, to stay healthy, to relieve stress, to socialize, to feel good about ourselves. Seldom, if ever, do we say that we run to inspire others. But in reality, it does happen. We in the solitariness of our run, oftentimes if not always totally absorbed in our love-hate relationship with the road or the trail, unconsciously serve as a beacon, an encouragement, an influence to others, even those who are totally unknown to us.
While in Makati for a job-related training, I visited a bookstore near the hotel where we were billeted to check out some running books. I was browsing through the pages of Rich Ellott's "Runners on Running" when I heard a tall guy standing a few feet away call out my name. It was Din, a runner I got connected with through Dailymile, a social networking site for runners and other fitness enthusiasts. We exchanged pleasantries and was soon joined by his wife Carrie.
This was actually the second time we met. The first time was at a restaurant in Greenbelt, more of a "hi, hello, nice meeting you" thing. They noticed me by the running shoes I was wearing. This second meeting gave us more time to talk running, and had both sharing to me how they started and a few stories of what they have experienced. What struck me really was how they said I have provided them motivation through my posts on Dailymile.
Today on Dailymile, I got a message from another online runner friend, Abet. She thanked me for keeping her spirits high while she is recovering from a serious bike accident. I am not sure what I particularly did or said. It could only be one or two of the workouts or pictures I posted that made her send me that message. But that doesn't really matter as much as having been able to provide motivation and inspiration in my own little way without me even knowing.
Runners on Facebook, on Twitter, and everywhere else where I am present online say that at one time or another - I inspire them.
I am no extraordinary runner. I am just another one among the multitude who embraced and continue to love this sport, eking out whatever little accomplishment we can from ourselves, getting high on any little victory achieved. Compared to the elite, the gods of the sport, I am a mere mortal. I even refuse to be addressed as coach. I have not been technically trained as a runner or properly educated to provide professional advice to runners. All I can do is share whatever practical knowledge I got through years of running.
Perhaps that is the beauty of this sport we love - how we find encouragement in each other's everyday achievements. In the same way that they say I inspire them, so can I say that my running friends motivate me to keep on doing what I do. I owe it to them that I continue to lace up my shoes and run every single day I can, even during those days when I didn't feel like running, especially during those days.
Perhaps that's really how we thrive as runners, by feeding off each other's energy, by being each other's inspiration.