I’ve been running for quite a few years now, and the vast majority of my miles have been logged solo. And I don’t think I’m in the minority here. This is mainly because finding the right running partner may in fact be harder than finding the perfect spouse. Not only do you have to find someone who runs roughly the same pace you do, but also has similar mileage and training goals, can run at the same times of the day and week that you can, and whose company you enjoy. So, as many of you can probably agree, it’s no easy proposition. The closest I’ve come is my sister, but she lives in eastern PA and I live in western MI, thus adding yet another barrier to finding a running partner: proximity to one another.
And so, for years I ran alone. And most of the time, I really didn’t mind. Running has never been primarily a social thing for me. Instead, it’s mine! It’s often the only part of my day that’s all mine. When I’m running, I don’t answer to kids, to my spouse, to my cat, or my lengthy to do list. I listen to my body, and I make the decisions about how far, how fast, and how much do I want to push. But every now and again, it began to get lonely. Every once in awhile, I began to long for someone there cheering me on, or to confide in or complain to.
And this is why, about a year ago, I began running with a group of moms on Friday mornings. These women all have kids at the same school as my daughters, and since I was new last year, I thought it would be a good way to get to know them. Their running goals and paces were varied, and initially I was worried about fitting in or going too fast or not fast enough. But soon I ditched those fears, and with them, the long list of qualifications for the perfect running partner. Because I learned that the joy that comes from sharing laughter and tears while running is pretty awesome. For whatever reason, running allows people to open up about things that I think would take a lot longer to come out otherwise. It’s shockingly easy to talk, and to listen, while running. These women that I barely knew a year ago are now some of my closest friends. And no, I don’t seek company on every run. I still prefer to do most of my running alone. But I am so, so glad that I loosened my grip on what it takes to make a good running partner. So here’s to running: whether it be alone, with a single friend, or with a whole running club, it’s pretty spectacular!