Lately I've been making an effort to observe and learn on each run. Sometimes I just observe dumb things that make me laugh, other times I re-learn how difficult it can be running in the heat. I've also found that recently I've been gleaning little bits from other runners who are out. I rarely if ever actually talk with anyone else out on the roads -- but that doesn't mean that I can't learn from them.
The people that stick in my mind the most are the ones who are visibly forcing back the discomfort that they're experiencing. They almost always look like they're new to running, and often they're overweight. Their knees shuffle along more than they rise. Their footfalls are heavy, their faces red. Some will wave back at me. Others won't.
Most importantly they care. That much is readily apparent. In that moment, running isn't easy for them and they aren't shying away from that. I find that sort of honesty to be rather inspiring, really. Their genuine effort in turn reminds me to work harder -- not out of competition, but because their focus is contagious. They're finding greatness, so to speak -- and maybe I can too.
Sometimes you just don't want to go out the door. Just because there's money down on a race and plans in place doesn't always mean that you're mentally dedicated to training. It's far, far easier to not go. It's hard to care -- sometimes far harder than the actual running part -- and maybe that's why caring is so damned important. If others can care, so can I.