Running can be a very personal and spiritual activity. I joke that it’s cheaper than therapy but it’s true. I have made some very substantial decisions regarding career choices and cross country moves on dirt trails in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Several years ago I decided to follow my heart to work in Nicaragua and Belize while out on street runs. I am positive that I have running to thank for rescuing my sanity during my doctorate program.
I never run with headphones. I am a purist in this aspect.
While I treasure this alone time, and schedule private runs for these purposes, I am truly at my best when I am running with my friends. I am lucky to be a member of two overlapping running clubs. Southern Oregon Runners- Oregon’s oldest running club, and Southern Oregon Running Enthusiasts: another form of family.
I am fortunate to have found running buddies, and a running club that supports my personal goals, and holds me accountable to maintaining progression. While I do not enjoy dissecting my splits, times, and competition schedule all the time, I do enjoy mulling over certain aspects of racing and running with my friends: nutrition plans, pre-race rituals, upcoming events, etc. The more I run with others, the more I understand that this means something different to each individual. For me, when I set off on a run with my teammate, I intend to finish it with them. Either I will push them, or they will push me, and we will exchange stories of the week or future aspirations, but we are finishing together in the end. It is amazing what you learn about someone during a 2.5 hour 20 mile run. In all honestly, I truly believe that this has made me a sharper runner.
Both the solitary and group runs have their place in a runner’s life. Considering that each individual draws from different aspects of running, I strongly recommend finding or forming a strong group of runners. A weekly group run can do wonders to keep you motivated.
Beyond this, I have found that running in a relay is one of the most enjoyable competitions I have ever experienced. As a former NCAA Collegiate volleyball player, I missed competing with a team, though running itself does satisfy my strong desire to remain goal oriented in physical activity. My first relay was last year, a 204 mile run from San Francisco to Napa, CA. This was truly one of the most fun competitions I have been a member of.
Crossing a marathon finish line is a testament to your personal perseverance, strength, and mental stamina. This journey often best achieved after months of long runs with friends.
Recommendations for finding a running group:
- Meetup.com: a website that links you with like minded people in your geographical area. If you are in Southern Oregon, come join us at Southern Oregon Running Enthusiasts (SORE)
- Find a locally owned running shop in town and check out their community board.
- Lululemon Athletica: if you are lucky enough to live in a city with a Lulu store, check out their local training board. They often host a running group at least once per week, in addition to cheap yoga and Pilates classes. Check out: http://www.lululemon.com/community/?mnid=mn;community
- Look for running groups hosted by a local physical therapy clinic. There are often training runs hosted by physical therapists specializing in running injuries.
What have you learned by running with your friends? We all have something to learn from each other, don’t we?
Running friends, thank you for always making my day GREAT.