We runners tend to be a little bit obsessed with our sport, and as a result, we often go on (and on) about it when someone brings running up. And that can be … well, obnoxious.
Here are some ways to avoid being insufferable and to be interesting and insightful instead:
Don’t share every detail
Someone who has the same amount of experience as you, and is in the same training phase, might find it interesting that you ran the middle four miles of your last long run at perfect marathon pace, and then finished up with a beautiful negative split. But to anyone with either more or less experience, that’s going to be boring (and may even come off as bragging). Keep descriptions of your runs top-line, unless you know your conversation partner really wants to hear everything.
Talk about the why
Similarly, when you’re recounting a recent success, failure, breakthrough, or experiment, it can be helpful to talk about why it matters, not simply the technical details. Remember that another runner (or someone who doesn’t run at all) may not see your 10 second per kilometer improvement as a big deal. Try phrasing your statements as “this happened, and it made me feel [x] because [y]”. This creates great fodder for a conversation that can go far beyond running, and is thus more inclusive and interesting.
Be agnostic about technique
It’s easy to forget there is no official rulebook for running. As a result, we make up our own rules – and then we assume that they’re the only ones that can possibly be correct. But remember the research on running is still young and changes regularly. One day a mid-foot strike is a non-negotiable, the next day your natural form is the better choice. One day minimalist toe shoes are in, the next they’re a false promise. The best way to navigate this terrain is to remain humble and open-minded when in discussions about running. Talk about “the way I do it”, not “the way it should be done”. Participate in respectful debates, sure, but don’t be pushy, defensive, or aggressive – it won’t be helpful to either party!
Read the signs
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning – remember to watch your conversation partner closely when you launch into a running story. Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge from the outset how much somebody knows or cares about the topic, and before you know it you’re deep in the woods and the other person is completely lost. If you see their eyes glazing over, their smile becoming strained, or their body language becoming shifty, ease back on the details and bring the conversation to a level – or topic – you both feel comfortable with.
Running has a great deal of potential to be a fun topic of conversation, but it can be really easy to overwhelm someone who doesn’t spend as much time thinking about it as you do. And while – yes, some of these tips are pretty obvious – it can be helpful to remember them next time you get SO EXCITED about your last run. When that happens, you’re always welcome Tweet at us or leave us a Facebook message. We never think you’re annoying!
Written by Varia Makagonova.