Interspecies communication

I like to hang out with people who love their sports. It's fun to hear runners talk about running; cyclists talk about cycling. The swimmers I know don't like to talk about swimming as much. Hm. I guess because you can't talk and swim at the same time.

Anyway, I have noticed some breed-specific characteristics. Newbies, prepare yourselves for your new friends:


Swimmers talk in workout lists. It sounds like trading spy codes. "Whatcha doing today?" "Six fifties on the thirty two eye emm one hundred kick one hundred back." Also, every swim coach is going to tell me something slightly different about where I should hold my head and where my hand should enter the water, and each of them is going to say this instruction replaces "the way they used to teach it in the old days."


It is all about the bike. No detail of that magnificent architecture is too small to discuss in detail. And for good reason — the bike is a physical extension of the body on it, so it pays to know your machine intimately. The Shimano Deore shifters. The SRAM cassette. This is not simple name-dropping. Cyclists mention the parts on their bikes the way some folks show pics of their kids, lovingly repeating each name. Cyclists also seem to be more interested in talking about their next ride than their last ride. Not so much talk about scenery, though every cyclist has a good story or two about something odd they saw happen to someone on a bike.


Runners love to tell you their routes. Runners become very attached to their routes and know exactly how each individual quarter-mile feels. Runners want to recommend their routes, love to find people who get the same vibe for the routes they enjoy. And the one thing every runner will tell you is how slow they are. The seven-minute runner will call himself slow. This doesn't mean the seven-minute runner thinks that you, the eleven-minute runner, are wasting your time. The seven-minute runner is not looking at you uncharitably. The seven-minute runner is looking at Haile Gebrselassie and wishing to know how it feels to go that fast. To hear runners talk, there is the fastest person and then there are degrees of slow.

One thing all these groups have in common is an awesome cameraderie. I have never felt as much cheered on as when talking running with runners or cycling with cyclists. And like I say, the swimmers don't talk. But even the fast swimmers will often happily split the lane, and that's as good a welcome as you'd want.

(Cross-posted from A Sunny Hello.)