The adventures of an unlikely pair. Follow us if you dare....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The One About Running Solo



A couple of weeks ago Alex actually went out with me for part of my long run, I always invite him to run with me whenever he wants but rarely do our schedules work out right for him to join me. But when he said he was going to come with me at least for part of it I was surprised when there was something inside of me that cringed.

You see lately I’ve become a selfish runner; I love my alone time. The “me time” that those 60+ minutes of the day bring me. I love being able to go wherever I want and run as fast as I want or as slow as I want. I love the time I get to think and process and dream and plan. I love the quite I feel when it’s just me running.

 But I haven’t always been that way, in fact I remember a time when I wouldn’t ever step foot outside my house to run unless I knew my running buddies were going to join me. So what happened?

Alex and I were actually talking about this while we were running because I admitted to him that while I absolutely love when he does something with me that I love so much I also felt annoyed a little bit that he was taking my time (he wasn’t offended, we are honest with each other like that and as long as we share things in love we are both ok with complete and utter honesty; and it actually worked out just fine because he ran half of my run with me and I got to run the second half, which is my favorite part of my run alone, but I’ve been sidetracked…). I was telling him that I had been thinking a lot about what changed in me and why.

When I first started running I did so because I had joined a training class at a local running store. The class would meet twice a week for shorter runs and then we were encouraged to go to the long run that they had downtown. I had about 5-8 people in my running group during that class but 2 of the ladies I got to know pretty well. The three of us actually would opt to do our long weekend runs together closer to home instead of going all the way downtown each Saturday morning. We bonded. We became great friends and for a whole year I would only run with them.

We finished our class and ran our goal race together and we didn’t stop there; we signed up for our first half marathon. We ran that and then some. We probably did 15-20 races together and we would do all of our runs during training together. This blog actually started because of them.

But then things changed, lives changed and sadly we all went our separate ways. I actually don’t talk to those girls anymore and it kills me, I miss them. Our lives are certainly different and maybe we just weren’t meant to be lifelong friends but the part of my life that they did share with me is priceless. I hope they know that I am forever blessed by the chapter they held in my life.

But I’m getting sidetracked again…

About a year ago I started training for my first marathon that I was planning to run in March of 2012. One of the girls I was running with said she would do it but as life went on I found myself being forced to run alone more and more. I hated it. It scared me and I found it was hard to motivate myself. I was dependent upon those girls for my strength and motivation. But I knew that if I was ever going to get to that marathon then no matter how many times they cancelled a group run I still had to log the miles somehow.

I think it was the Christmas Eve that things finally started to click for me; I got up and ran 16 miles that day. That was the furthest I had ever gone and certainly the furthest I had ever gone alone. It took me 3 hours and 11 minutes and I was so proud of myself. A spark was lit.

While I was certainly proud of myself for those 16 miles I didn’t totally completely fall in love with running alone until this fall. I eventually got used to running alone but I think in some ways I was still mourning the loss of my running buddies in my life. Late spring and this summer were actually very tough mentally for me when it came to running. I struggled with motivation, I struggled with dealing with a bad first marathon and I struggled with some weight and medication issues as well.

However, God is good and He gave me just what I need when I needed it. I knew I would be attempting another marathon, 2012 was my year by golly and I was going to become a marathoner (for real this time!) So I set up my schedule and started my training. I lost all the weight I had gained this summer and I started changing the way I ate and I started noticing my pace slowly but surely dropping. This lit a fire under me and all of a sudden I fell in love with running all over again.

I initially fell in love with running because it provided healing for me. This time I fell in love because it is giving me strength. I crave that hour long Monday and Wednesday run, I seriously look forward to it. I enjoy waking up at ungodly hours on a Saturday morning and pounding the pavement, listening to my breath and watching my feet fall. I crave that time when my mind just wanders to all parts of the universe and I can be and do anything. I love running alone.

It’s so weird to come full circle in this journey; I never ever thought I would be the type to want to run alone rather than run with people but here I am. I told Alex that while a part of me is annoyed when he wants to run with me a bigger part of me is glad. I’ve also decided that I’m going to work on finding a perfect balance between running alone and enjoying the blessings that brings me as well as taking the time to enjoy company, whether that be Alex or anyone else. I still love the joy I feel of being alone on the open road but I also want to share my joy with others.

Do you run alone or with people? Do you like it or am I the only person who thinks so deeply about running alone? 

9 comments:

Jameil said...

I like both but sometimes I crave the solo run! I think about any and everything and return home with such clarity and peace about life and a gratefulness that I have the desire and ability to run. So glad I get to go run tonight-- with a group!

Erin said...

What a great post! I do a mix of both. I really enjoy running with a group for speed work, as I push myself a lot harder than I would on my own. I also like long runs with other people sometimes as, again, I push myself harder and the company makes the miles go by faster. That being said, I definitely need my alone runs. I run 6 days per week, and I need at least 3 of those runs to be solo. I'm like you - the solo runs are my "me time."

I think a lot of people are dependent on running with others - which is fine - but I also think the beauty of a solo run is often overlooked. I love that you've come to enjoy your solo runs!

armyamy said...

I'm currently running solo. It's pretty much how I've always rolled, except for January - April when I was running with a coworker during the week and a training group on the weekends. I think it's tough to marathon train alone, so major props to you for getting in long runs solo! I'm impressed!

I miss running with people, but I'm starting to settle back in to going it alone. It clears my mind like nothing else.*

TorontoRunner said...

Switching it up and doing both I think is fun, but I definitely like my alone time and running solo!

Rain said...

I struggle with this since I am doing the less is more approach and I only run 3 days a week. I like doing speedwork with others, as like Erin said, it helps me push myself...and as for long runs, I like having company for those also, because it does make it go faster...I do miss my solo runs!

Sassy Amie said...

I have always ran with someone. I have a great friend who was my running buddy. We trained and ran two half marathons together. I moved a few months ago, and running has pretty much been non-existent because I don't have a running buddy anymore :( I have been trying to train for a half marathon and it's not going so well because it is SO hard for me to run alone. Hopefully I'll get to a place where I like running solo...

meghan said...

This post is what I want to be able to write. I run alone 98% of the time but love meeting up with people. I don't know a whole lot of runners, and the ones I do know either run a little slower or faster than me. I get frustrated sometimes that I don't have that camaraderie, and I get jealous of others who run in groups all the time. I want to be able to write how much I crave running alone and how I view that as my time. What do you do during the runs that you crave so much? I really enjoy running because of the accomplishment and pride I feel, but I want to start wanting to run for the time I'm actually running instead of the feeling I get by doing it. I know you said you don't do music, so what do you do? What do you think about? How do you zone out? Sorry. A million questions!

Tyly said...

I can't wait to get to a point where I crave my runs like you do. I HATE that they feel like chores. Please tell me that you fell that way once upon a time...

Elizabeth said...

I totally relate to this post!! It has just been in the last month that I have started wanting to run by myself! I initially started running solo, but my sister soon joined me, and I needed her for extra motivation and 'push factor' because running was so hard for me. As it's become a bigger part of my life, I sometimes would rather run by myself than with her. Part of my desire to run alone comes because she can run 2-3 mpm faster than I, and I feel so bad slowing her down, and also it makes me really struggle because I feel so slow.
I love group running for motivation, and solo running just for me. :)
But also, running is me time. I can make the world go away for a little while and forget that I ever had problems or stress or happiness or anger or love or fear or anything.....it's just me and the road.