In the lead-up to the London Marathon, running is a hot topic on everyone's lips at the moment. Runners are feeling the pressure of this glorious weather and the spectators are prepping their banners and jelly babies already!
Running is, of course, a wonderful way to keep our bodies healthy. But recently, a few people have asked me WHY I think running is the easiest way to open up to other people. I suppose I have my own experience to base my answer on because I suppose it worked for me. But there is very good reason why I believe that running makes it far easier for us as humans to open up our true selves to one another. Here is why.
- There are no social boundaries.
From the CEO in a Hedge Fund to the construction site labourer – running kit is running kit – everyone is on equal terms, and that cuts out a lot of the bullshit we see in the “real world”. It is like the social pre-judgements we make no longer apply once we’re out, pounding the pavements.
- We are displaying our rawest selves.
Out running, we are showing ourselves at our most vulnerable. We are fatigued, sweaty, red, exhausted, uncomfortable. Experiencing that level of vulnerability at the same time as another human being creates a bond which allows us to be raw about other aspects of ourselves too.
- Less intimidating.
Running side by side reduces the intimidating nature of eye contact. When you take away the eye-contact factor you are taking away that feeling of being judged. It is almost as though we are running and being honest with ourselves as much as we are being honest with the person running next to us. Knowing that the other person is at your side, instead of directly ahead of you means that you can move forward together. There is great power in that.
- Getting outside.
In today’s world we are becoming less and less frequent in our “face to face” real-time communications with the people around us. Getting outside with one another for a run is one of the few opportunities that we really have to share what might sound somewhat “silly” or “dramatic” or simply too difficult to explain over a message or Whatsapp.
- Lost inhibitions.
Whilst running, it is almost as though we are simply too tired to put up any pretences about who we are. I have definitely seen friends and family at their “most silly” whilst running, and I think that’s genuinely because it is simply impossible to maintain a decent level of composure. That loss of inhibition makes it so much easier to just let go of our fear of judgement, so it becomes easier to share what’s really on our mind.
I would be really interested to know/hear about any other theories of why it is easier to open up to another person whilst out running, more so than other social settings. Or perhaps you disagree! Let me know in the comments.