Running alone is hard. Choosing to run with others is hard, too, but better. In this way, running is a little bit like life.
Last weekend, before, during and after the Run for the Helmet 7k race in Cottleville, I was reminded again just how much I am getting out of my marathon training with Fleet Feet. More than just professional training and coaching, quality advice on stretching, injury prevention and nutrition – although those aspects are deeply valued – I am getting true camaraderie, friendship, encouragement and support. And Fun! Did I mention I’m having SO. MUCH. FUN!?
I have always been a bit of a loner when it comes to my running. I like to put my ear buds and lose myself in a good book. It’s my “me” time and, always the multi-tasker, I simultaneously indulge my love of fiction and my fondness for running.
In this way, I’ve done most of my distance training alone.
But I wasn’t getting any better as a runner, and I figured I must be doing something wrong. So I signed up to train with Fleet Feet for the Go! St. Louis Marathon this April.
Turns out I was doing more than “something” wrong – I was doing most everything wrong. But that’s for another post.
The biggest thing I was doing wrong had very little to do with the science, athleticism, endurance and mechanics of running. It was the people and the camaraderie that were missing from my training. It was the fun that was missing.
Through Fleet Feet, I’ve discovered these essential ingredients to running — people and fun — that enhance my training like a good spice enhances a recipe.
There is something so powerful, so motivating about:
- Knowing when I rise to the sound of my alarm in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning, I can’t crawl back under the covers because there are people expecting me to show up in a cold parking lot near a trailhead somewhere.
- Running alongside people who know and can joke about:
- The reality of screaming out loud when you did not know you had a chafing issue until the shower water revealed it to you.
- The masochistic pain delivered by a foam roller
- The horror you worry you will inflict upon a nail technician if you go for a pedicure
- A passionate hatred for hills
- A passionate love of Aquaphore
- Strassburg socks (and their torturous appearance)
- The fact that your running shoes are the most expensive item in your wardrobe.
- Having people alongside me during a long, grueling training run to encourage me to continue – to pass up my car one more time, to push through to the end even if I have to slow down to do so. And they are willing to slow down with me.
- Having people at the end of a run applauding my effort and my finish time, sharing their finish time with me, and all of celebrating an accomplishment.
Last weekend, I experienced all of these things and more. After the race, I enjoyed the company of other runners at a post-race social gathering. We talked about their challenges with fitting training in with family and work obligations, about run cruises (something I MUST check out) and about previous training seasons that helped forge the friendships I was observing and becoming a part.
All of it made me look forward to next weekend’s 19 miles. Because it’s fun again.
Fleet Feet has multiple running and training programs (some free, some not) to choose from and many of the participants train with them year round — the group is like a big family. You can learn more here.