Back in August, I put together a few unsolicited article ideas for Running Insight. I heard back quickly, per usual, but the response eschewed my own proposals and expressed interest in an article about the upcoming The Running Event 2021. “A going-to-show sort of piece,” was the suggestion. Something to appeal to rookies and veterans alike. 

I agreed, and promptly slipped into nostalgia mode — sat back at a local café sipping my Americano and reveled in all my past days at the most important days on my calendar every year. All those shows in Austin, the one weird year in Orlando, then more still back in the Texas capital.   

I quickly realized that all my years at TRE feel like one big gathering. Though I distinctly remember various keynote speakers, vendor extravaganzas and the myriad educational offerings I’ve led or attended, it’s impossible to differentiate what detail happened during precisely which year. Somehow the TRE narrative has evolved to be ageless in my recollection, which strikes me more as a compliment to the show’s format than as a symptom of my middle age.

I’m pretty sure I can summarize in a word all that TRE represents — togetherness. 

Make Sure You Show Up

Sure, we all land in Bat City to envelop ourselves in the standard conference rigmarole: Education, inspiration and fancy brand offerings are all valid excuses to take a much-needed couple of days away from our daily and passionate grind. But these are but peripheral details to what we’re really after. 

What uplifts us most is each other. At TRE our humanness is exalted simply by being in intimate quarters with fellow industry leaders. Yes, the whole ordeal is exhausting and it takes a solid week (at least) to recover from the fanfare, but there’s no denying that the potential of these short few days that zip past in a blur. The biggest piece of TRE advice I can offer newbies and well-versed attendees alike — make sure you show up.

• Show up, in this case, doesn’t mean simply attending. 

• Show up isn’t encouragement to sit in on as many sessions as possible. 

• Show up has nothing to do with the multitude of fancy dinners or schmoozing or telling tall tales about how good everything is back home. 

• If you truly show up to TRE, you allow yourself to step into a vulnerable place where authenticity becomes currency for ongoing success. This might mean a night of karaoke, sure, but it also might mean humbly opening yourself to an industry colleague who can teach you a thing or two.  

• Showing up requires a mutual effort. It’s like that Zulu greeting you’ve likely read about in business books. The greeter says, “I see you,” and the receiver responds, ”I am here.” 

I see you — I am here is a powerful way to intentionally capture each other’s realness. Which is precisely what will make your TRE experience so rich. 

Don’t be one of the attendees who lies about what’s good, or self-aggrandizes their reality to impress industry colleagues. Not worth it. 

Instead, take the risk to be genuine. Share successes and hardships. Ask questions and listen. Say yes to all the things and pace yourself. Seek out time with people you don’t know yet. If you add such details into your repertoire, you’ll inherently leave with way more than your registration fee’s worth of actionable strategies.    

All of us are pining to feel this togetherness again. We’re desperate to share thoughts on everything from our own businesses to the direction of the run industry. COVID-19, the supply chain, national politics and social justice all need our attention as we evolve into a stronger and more inclusive space. 

All About Us, Not Me

But in order to do this smartly we must share our collective stories. So let’s use this time in Austin to make sure all voices are heard  Let’s make the conscious choice to put our minds together and thus improve upon what we’ve got. I, for one, am motivated to grow our togetherness far beyond my lineage. This is about us, not me. 

As for all those topics I initially proposed — they remain worthy conversational topics. Together you folks will have far more thoughts to ponder than any article I’ll ever write. But still I’ll offer you this — if you want to know what’s on my mind, seek me out for a chat over a cup of Houndstooth coffee (best in town, in my opinion). I’ll be thrilled for a moment of togetherness with any and all of you.     

I see you. I am here. Let’s together take whatever risks we need to take in order to make this an extraordinary TRE. n