I think that there is something magical about pounding the pavement alone. For me, it is a time to be quiet with my thoughts. A time to think through a problem, pray, or mediate on what is good in my life. It is a time where I can in vision an upcoming race, jam out to my ridiculously cheesy iPod playlist, or just zone out on life in general. These are often some of my favorite runs because my mind, body, and soul all seem to connect, if even for just a few short miles. Afterward, I often feel renewed.
They can also be some of the most challenging runs due to the fact that you are all by yourself and therefore it is up to you alone to get you through the aches, pains, boredom, heat, cold, fatigue, ect.
Sometimes running with a friend or a group is just what you need to keep going. These past few weeks I have been doing most of my runs with a group and it has been awesome. When I am training for something, in this case the Kalamazoo Marathon, I like to pound out my miles in a group setting and here are some reasons why:
- Running with friends holds me accountable. Take last night for example. I had a four mile run on the agenda. By the time I got out of work it was freezing out! After a long day at the office I was exhausted, cold, and a tad bit cranky. If it was not for the fact that I had a run date set up, I am certain that I would have skipped my run and went home to veg on my couch instead. But I had made plans and I knew that I had someone waiting on me so I showed up. That was half the battle, just showing up. And I am glad I did because I felt so good after my run! It was nice to know that someone else was holding me accountable to stick to the plan. No excuses!
- There is safety in numbers. At this time of the year in Michigan it is usually pitch black outside by 6pm. I don’t live in the safest of neighborhoods and I often feel uneasy running by myself. I feel so much better when I am running in a group. When there are five runners all lit up like Christmas trees, it easier for people in cars to see us and slow down. It is also a benefit to have others with you incase you get injured or hurt.
- Learning new routes. When I am by myself, I often run a route that is around my house because it is what I know and what I am comfortable with. When I run in a group we often meet at different locations and we tend to mix up our routes for variety. A change of scenery is nice and keeps boredom at bay. Last night I ran around Western Michigan University’s campus and it was a nice change of pace. A lot has changed there since I went to school!
- Meeting new people. I have met so many new faces since joining Run Camp. People from all different walks of life and of all ages with one thing in common, a love for running.
- Learning new tricks of the trade. When you are spending all that time out on the road with your running buddies, it gives you a perfect opportunity to talk about your favorite hobby, running of course! You can swap tips and knowledge on how to get the most of your GPS, how to survive an ice bath, your favorite brand of compression socks, and what cool and upcoming races there are.
- Motivation. Your tired and sore and you are ready to call it quits. This is when running in a pack becomes the most beneficial. There is something so great about having a running partner there to encourage and motivate you. Someone to tell you that you’ve got this, only one more mile. Someone to tell you how awesome you are doing. Someone to tell you that….
- Time flies when you are having fun. When I am running and chatting away with my run group, the miles fly by! I think that there is a big difference between 13 miles by yourself, verses 13 miles with company. When you are listening to a fellow runner telling a funny story or sharing your day with someone, you are focused on the conversation, not the miles. Before you know it your run is wrapping up and you put in a good two hours on the road!
As my miles increase, I am so happy that I have found such a core group of people to share the experience of marathon training with. I am learning so much and having so much fun in the process. I would love to hear how your training is going and if you enjoy running solo or with friends.
What are some reasons that you like running with friends? If you are a solo runner, what helps motivate you on your long runs?