Did you know that people are paying attention to what you are doing? Did you know that you are influencing people every time you run or ride outside? You may not think you are. You might think that you are just going about your own business. But that would be false!
When you make a habit of something like running or cycling or bike commuting…people notice, whether they are your friends or neighbors or complete strangers. I can’t tell you how many times people on the street have stopped me to tell me they've seen me here or there. They tell me how great I’m doing. They ask me how far I run or ride. They ask me if I’m training for something or if I’m nervous being out there by myself. They ask me about my gear. They stop me on the bike path or at a stoplight, even at the store or REI. They tell my mom and my friends they've seen me out and about.
I've always thought of myself as incognito when I ride and run because I always wear a hat or helmet and I don’t wear my glasses when I run and usually sunglasses when I ride. It amazes me how many people recognize me. Sometimes it’s a little weird but mostly it’s fun. It makes me feel like I’m part of community. That I’m not alone out there even if I’m running or riding by myself. Sure, there are the regulars I see every day out walking or in their yards. I just never thought about the cars going by me noticing too.
One day, I was on my bike at a red light and the truck next to me rolled down his window. I braced myself for a rude comment (which is what most cyclists hear from motorists) and to my surprise, he first gave me a caution (that he was letting the car in the left hand lane make a right in front of him so he would be going in front of me too) and then to tell me that he was impressed with how committed I was to bike commuting and with how much weight I’d lost.
Then, just this past weekend, I had another “encounter”. I was out on a 20 mile run with about 1 mile to go and as I was waiting for a light, a woman came up running to wait as well. She asked me how far I had run and when I told her she said “oh, because I saw you early this morning out on Baseline as I was taking my son to the airport. I work in the Lewis buildings (the company that I work for but other companies rent space as well) and I see you all the time. You are doing great.”
It made me feel like I had become “that girl”. You know “that girl who’s always riding” or “that girl you see running all over the place”. Like a character in the neighborhood. But in a good way. Who knows, maybe one of them will lace up their shoes or hop on a bike after seeing me!
So the next time you head out the door, remember…you are probably setting a great example for someone you may never meet!