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Running: The Universal Language Posted on February 17, 2014

For the past month I have been living in Florence, Italy, and will continue to live here for another 4 months. Now, I obviously speak English. I can also speak a little Russian and my Spanish isn't half bad. Upon arriving to Italy I was told I could probably get by knowing and speaking Spanish. "Great!" I thought. "This will be a breeze!" Well, unless all I have to say are my numbers 1-10 and the word 'bicycle', I am out of luck. So the past month I have a lot to learn. But there is one language that everyone understands.

Slipping on that shoe that has molded to your foot, grabbing those Asics running shorts, tightening your watch to the fifth notch, and deciding if 45 degrees is tshirt or long sleeve weather!

No one misunderstands that, it's time to run. Florence is such a great city! Every Wednesday night there is a group run that anyone can do. This is NOT a small group. Last week on a rainy, cold and windy night, 213 runners showed up! The city closes roads down throughout a 4-6 mile course around Florence. Once that gun goes off, it doesn't matter if you are English, Spanish, Russian or any other nationality you can think of, just find your pace group and put on a smile! (But you will need to convert the paces to mile pace, they sort them in Kilometers [or 'European Sissy Miles' as my college track team so eloquently put it]). When you are out there running and bump into someone, all it takes is a "look" at the person you ran into and they know "sorry", no words necessary. That is running!

As we pass shops and bystanders, everyone comes out and gives us a big cheer. Everyone is happy to see us. I don't need to hear "good job", or "bueno", or "хорошая работа" to know they are happy to see us! You hear it in their voice and see it in their eyes.

Recently, I traveled to Paris for the day-- Valentines Day (so romantic), and got a chance to speak the universal language from the 'other side of the fence'. It was great to pass runners and just smile and give them a nod. They would grin and give me the two finger half salute. No words spoken, but a thousand words understood. That is why I am happy to be a runner.


*Jake's a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team*


by Mark Spewak

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