I have always trained alone. Every last run during the training for my first half marathon and most for my first marathon were completed totally alone. While it was awesome that I could just go and do them whenever I had time – because who DOESN’T want to do a 16 miler at 4:30 PM on a Sunday – looking back it kind of sucked.
I never had a problem running alone. It was all I knew. I still don’t mind it, and sometimes prefer it. But once I joined the now-defunct lululemon UTC run club and November Project I began running with others more and sow how much more enjoyable it can be. Not only is it more fun, but there are other benefits:
- Accountability. Do you think I’d show up at the crack of dawn to do speed work at a track if I knew no one else was going to be there? HELL NO. My alarm would be shut off before Finn Hudson could mutter the first words of Faithfully. Yeah I have GLEE music for my track alarm. JUDGE ME. It also keeps me from ditching a run early.
- Speed. Alone and tired? Yep, immediately make the run a slow run. Something about running with others automatically makes me go a little faster, especially if I run with fast people. I absolutely crushed every lulu UTC run because I didn’t want to make our #fastAF leader run too slow. Even when we were going up that stupid mother effing Nancy Ridge Road hill. I still don’t know who Nancy is, but I don’t like her.
- Support. I’m not talking about your friends setting up water and gummy bear stations on the side of the road for you (though that would be suh-weeeet). But having someone you can exchange encouraging words with, motivate you, and take your mind of the fact that you are voluntarily subjecting yourself to hours of torture.
I bring this up because this evening I went to the lululemon Tuesday Trailblazers run club. There were only two of us who wanted to do the 6 mile out-and-back. Listen, if I’m dragging myself all the way to Pacific Beach to run I’m going to make it worth my time. We took off running and dashing around people who insist on taking up the entire sidewalk. I knew we were going fairly fast for what was supposed to be a casual run. My eyes nearly shot out of my head when I looked down at my watch, but I didn’t say anything. We kept going. Near the turn-around we both agreed we should take it down a notch since I’m still sore from Ragnar and she had a swim workout tomorrow. It was teetering on that slightly-uncomfortable pace. Yeah, the slowing down lasted about one-quarter mile. We finished strong and ended up with a 7:39 pace. Huh? Casual run club run turned moderate effort run? Neither of us would’ve run that fast had we been alone, but somehow, without saying a word, we pushed each other. We worked harder than we intended. We really picked up the pace towards the end. We both agreed that it. Was. Awesome. While I have to miss the next few weeks of Tuesday Trailblazers due to work and travel, hopefully I’ll be able to make it back and run with her again!