Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On Community

‘Tis the season for gift guides, cookie eating, twinkle lights, and parties, and although I love these holiday-ish things as much as the next person, I also think such social + sensory overload has the tendency to overshadow the greater meaning of the holiday season. SO, in the spirit of slowing down and reflecting on the things in my life I’m most thankful for, I’m writing this post about why I think my (our) running community is so great.

I’ll begin by pointing out that running, at its very core, is an individual thing. You don’t need anyone else to do it. You don’t need anyone to round out your roster, no one to throw the ball back to you, no one to pass you the puck—it’s really just you and the road. On a day-to-day basis, whether you get out and run is solely your decision. You are responsible. And while this may be one of the deepest and most fundamental truths of the sport, there is just nothing quite like being part of a team. Running, like most things in life, is just better with others.

The running community in the Twin Cities is pretty incredible. I suppose I am pretty biased, having never lived in another major city, but I am still convinced that what we have here really is something special—I just know it’s not like this everywhere. I can't say what it is about this area that creates such an atmosphere, but I see it everywhere. I do most of my running on the trails that run along the Mississippi River—right through the heart of Minneapolis--and I am positively surrounded by my community. If I’m out for a long run, it’s rare I don’t see someone I know by name and can greet with a smile or a wave. And what’s more, I see people every day who I've never met personally, but I feel like I really know just because we run the trails together so often.

One of the reasons I have been so drawn to this store—other than the fact that I love Jeff and Bekah, of course—is that Mill City Running so deeply embraces the idea of true community and fellowship. The enthusiasm here is positively contagious, and the commitment to welcoming every person who walks in the door, runner or not, is impossible to resist. And the group runs! Come to a group run and see for yourself—the feeling of this community is tangible. No one can stay away, and it’s because deep down, everyone wants, and really needs to belong to something. When that’s provided, we’re drawn to it. Mill City Running embodies the value of fellowship, and the idea that we as humans are better together, both in running and in life.

I’ll leave you with Merriam-Webster’s definition of community, which is the following: 

“community, n. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

This is exactly what I’m talking about—running connects us, and there’s a kind of mutuality we share, an understanding. It’s seen in a subtle nod of the head as you pass one another, acknowledging that you’re both out for your run despite the bitter cold. It’s the smile you share as you run by the sweet old man you see every day with his black lab. It’s the message of encouragement you shout at the marathoners as they will themselves through their final miles. These are all little things, but they are the foundation of why being a runner is so great. We’re really all in it together—no matter how fast we are, who we train with, where we run, or how it fits into our lives. We’ve all discovered or re-discovered running and made it a part of who we are, and this simple fact binds us together, whether we’d like to believe it or not. I was lucky enough to discover running and develop a love for it, and it has afforded me countless incredible experiences and opportunities. But at the end of the day, I have to say that the single best thing running has given me has absolutely been the people. And for that—for all of you—I’m exceedingly thankful.



  1. Wow. Beautifully said, Jillian! And exactly how I feel. Thank you.

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