Home running Dear Stranger Runner, Thank You.

Dear Stranger Runner, Thank You.

by Nellie

A few years ago I decided to really throw myself into this running life. I bought all the things. I did all the research. I read all the blogs. It seemed as if overnight I became a real runner.

Fast forward to this year. I have been wondering on the inside if this running thing was really meant for me? I began asking myself, am I really a real runner? Do I have the chops to continue to be as ALL IN as I am? My pace hasn’t improved by much, so does this mean that I should focus on things that I adore like strength training and dance fitness?


Then I cross another finish line and fall in love all over again. It’s a crazy confusing cycle.

This past Saturday I had a daunting task in front of me. I had to run my second 20 miler of the training season. Unlike the last one where I ran a half marathon squeezed in, I’d be solo, around my local park. This was terrifying because I like running with random people because when my motivation tank is low I know I still have to cross a finish line to get my bling.


I also woke up with a terrible headache and as I got myself together I heard the pitter patter of feet coming to greet me before I left which, of course, delayed me an hour leaving. #momrunnerproblems

When I arrived on the track that I knew I’d be looping countless times, I started at a lame pace. I told myself I was conserving energy but really I didn’t want to do this. I saw a gentleman ahead of me and decided to use him as motivation. He was moving at a pace slightly faster than mine and I challenged myself to match his pace for one loop. Somehow we ended up next to each other step for step.


At this point I was kinda worried that he thought I was some kind of stalker because who does that?! I prayed he didn’t get annoyed with me because I didn’t feel bad and his pace was super manageable with no walk breaks. After our 6th (!!!) loop around together he offered me a unopened propel water and told me to drink. I breathed a sigh of relief and kept going.

Without stopping once, we chatted. His first marathon was in 4 weeks in Long Island. We talked about NYC. How hard it was. He told me to conserve and run this pace, and not to get too excited in Brooklyn. Yes, I know. Headphones back in.

Before you knew it he had paced me through a cool 7 miles without stopping. Here’s the thing, I’ve never run that long ever–EVER. I barely go through a mile without a walking break. Even though I had so many miles left I could have stopped right there and cried because I didn’t even think it was possible for me to do that so it was a unicorn captured. (He later told me we were running 11:00 minute miles –I’ve never run those kinds of miles…ever…not even close)

I finished my 20 miles upright but really with confidence. Confidence that I can do this, and maybe the end of this marathon won’t be so horrible. Maybe my body has hidden potential after all. I don’t know.


Thank you stranger for your kindness and for your gentle encouragement. I hope I can show that same kindness to someone one day.

Have you ever used a random person for motivation during a race? What is the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?

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CARLA October 17, 2016 - 5:24 am

This makes me smile so WIDE.
And lately with all the electioncrap I think it is easy for me to think HOLY MOLY WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH OUR WORLD? WHERE ARE ALL THE NICE PEOPLE?
I needed to see this this morning.

Allie October 17, 2016 - 6:08 am

The kindness of RUNNING strangers is no joke!! We get one another and we are out there in the grind together. I seriously love the running community so much and this is exactly why!!! I’m so glad you had this experience and yes Nellie, you can do hard things like run the NYC marathon!! So proud of you!!

Janine HulDie October 17, 2016 - 6:31 am

Aw, definitely loved reading how this turned out and reaffirmed that your are a runner, as well as their is still some good in this world, too 😉

Janelle October 17, 2016 - 12:17 pm

The running community is full of so many friendly people! I’m glad you were able to find someone to keep you motivated, and congrats on those 11-minute miles, that’s awesome!

Tamara October 17, 2016 - 2:36 pm

Ah, I love that story! I would have been suspicious at first too, but the interaction seems perfect.
You are SO a runner.

Danielle October 18, 2016 - 8:39 am

This is what makes me love the running community and running itself – we really don’t know what we’re capable of sometimes! What a way to end your run on a high note. You’ve got this!

Terri November 22, 2016 - 8:41 am

This is beautiful. It’s like I always tell myself when working out. “Your body can go on forever. It’s your mind that’s telling you to stop.”


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