By Christopher Cudworth
Among the many friends you make over a lifetime, some share your interests keenly while others regard your activities with a degree of skepticism. Yet they are still friends.
It is particularly true in the fields of distance running and cycling that your social network may not understand your endurance pursuits. But relax, that’s a good thing. We need friends who share our interests in order to share our activities, yet we also need friends who think we’re nuts for doing what we do. It keeps our obsessions in perspective.
In the work world it is increasingly common to find others who share your workout interests. Some office buddies even hit the gym together or play hoops.
Recently it has been proposed that running is the “new golf” when it comes to corporate bonding. So much for the friendly foot wedge to get your boss or client out of a tough spot in the rough on a par 5.
Yet there are always people who can’t stand the idea of running and riding. “Ugh, running!” you’ll hear them say. “The only place I run is to the fridge for a beer.”
Okay, you tell yourself. I guess I won’t tell them I just broke 40:00 for 10k. It won’t mean much to someone who doesn’t care and can’t possibly know what your PR really means.
When people ask about cycling they often begin with a qualifier such as, “I like to ride my bike too. I just rode up to (insert name of town) and back. I think it was 6 miles, isn’t it?”
You nod and confirm the distance, only to hear them ask. “Have you ever ridden that far?”
“Well,” you admit, knowing what’s about to come next. “I rode 75 miles on Saturday and 45 miles on Sunday this weekend.”
Blank stare for a moment.
“In a day?” they ask? “You rode 75 miles in one day.” Flat voice.
“I do that every weekend, pretty much,” you reply.
More flat voice. “You’re nuts. I don’t drive that far in a weekend.”
Yes, these exchanges can be awkward. They can create a strange feeling of distance between you and friends who do not run or ride. But the best thing you can do is offer your interests like an olive branch. Try to remember something they told you about their interests. Perhaps it’s playing in a rock band, in which case you say, “Hey, don’t you guys practice for four hours every weekend with your band? To me, that’s the same thing as my riding. It’s something you enjoy.”
“Yeah,” they’ll usually say. “That is. I love my band. I could play all night.”
“I bet you could,” you smile and say. “I guess we all have something we enjoy.”
“Not me,” your friend might say. “I could never enjoy riding like you do. My ass would hurt too much.”
And it’s best to leave it at that. Because once you start talking about asses the conversation can go in no good directions. Best to let the conversation settle like clouds of dirt in a puddle. They may never understand what you do, but you don’t need them to. Friends are friends for different reasons.
They can’t all be cool like those of us who run and ride.