Running is a very lonely activity. You train by yourself. You’re alone with your thoughts, constantly trying to tell yourself
just one more step,
just one more mile,
just one more time.
It can be hard to keep going.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a few really great encouragers come along side of me during my training that have answered my questions, encouraged me, or just whined with me when I needed it. And I highly recommend that if you’re running or even thinking about running, you get some people to do this journey with you.
And I’m not talking about people to actually run with, but that would be nice, too. For me, it’s hard to match schedules and pace with other people so actually logging miles with another person hasn’t happened much. Mostly I run alone, on the treadmill or on the road, and I’ve been fine with that.
But I’ve got my friend Heather training for her first half marathon right now, too. So we get to do training runs together, we get to occasionally meet up for sprints and a quick run, we get to text each other questions, comments, and complaints. She encourages me when I don’t want to do a long run and she motivates me when she says she’s already done hers so I need to get out there and do mine. It’s been great having someone on this journey with me that is going through the same struggles with the same learning curve.
Then I’ve got my seasoned running friend, Rachel. She’s done it all: Iron Man, full marathons, half marathons, triathlons, trail runs, and a bunch of other things I have no clue about. She’s been such an encourager. When I can run eight miles easy, but struggle to run three, she says that’s all part of it and, no, I’m not an idiot. She sends me Runner’s World articles at just the right time and encourages me to eat chocolate if that’s what “my body wants.” She understands the need for a mid-week rest day and the struggle to run after a hard day of teaching middle schoolers. She’s the one that has done all of this before, knows I’ll live to tell about it, and reassures me that I can do it.
The last person in my support group probably doesn’t know he’s in my support group: my dad, the silent partner. He’s been randomly dropping off running magazines at my house, marking articles that I should read. Lately, I’ve been heading out to my parents’ house on the weekends for my long runs and my dad will do them with me. My 9:30 pace is probably killing him, but he jogs slowly beside me, talking to me about what I should and shouldn’t do in training. And saying dumb runner things like “I love to get up early and run before work!” or “Nothing feels better than starting your day with an eight mile run!” Things that make me want to punch him if I had the energy. He runs and loves every minute of the torture. I run and hate it. But I just keep doing it anyway. And sometimes his love for running is endearing. But most of the time it’s not.
I don’t think I could have gotten this far without surrounding myself with people that know what they’re doing. Or with friends that accepted this challenge with me and have been working their butts of for months for the race. We’re in the final stretch and I can already see the finish line, already feel the medal around my neck. I can’t wait for the race.