I was running with a business colleague the other day and we were discussing bowel movements. That's right, bowel movements. What's more, it was a perfectly natural and easy conversation with no awkwardness or nervous laughter. Regular bowel movements hold a level of importance in a runner's life that's difficult to explain to non-runners. Discussing when you have them and what you do to encourage them is not an atypical conversation for a group of distance runners.
But it struck me as funny, later, imagining this conversation in terms of two business colleagues who aren't runners.
"So, Tom, did you have a chance to look over that brief?"
"I meant to Bill, but I'm having stomach issues this morning. Usually I'm as regular as a German train but for some reason this morning, nothing. I can't figure out what's causing it. I ate a ton of roughage last night for dinner. I even drank an extra cup of coffee to get things moving. Guess I'll just have to tough it out in today's meeting."
"I feel ya. I went three days last week with no action. I felt so bloated. It was awful. When things finally started moving I was like, 'Hallelujah!'"
Snot rockets are another purview of runners. I think nothing of a friend, associate or new acquaintance pressing a finger to the side of their nose and pressure-shooting out a wad of snot in my presence. In fact, I consider it a personal failure that I've never mastered the art of the snot rocket.
Add into the mix the fact that the endorphins associated with running encourage the sharing of deeply personal information (I know more about the job, marriages and failings of casual acquaintances then is probably healthy) and you've got an addictive sport.
Whether it's talking about snot, bowel movements or the highs and lows of everyday life, I love the bond that forms between runners.
I wouldn't trade it for a world of high-class conversations.