I consider myself a novice runner. I ran competitively in high school but the longest distance I raced was an 800. I was the fast-twitch queen. Running half marathons and now training for a marathon this Spring I’m learning, is a whole other animal (some would say crazy). Anyone who has ever tried to get back into running knows 1-how hard it can be but 2-how rewarding it is if you stick it out. No matter what kind of shape your in however, you’re going to have those days when you just can’t do it by yourself. So when running gets nasty, who you gonna call? The East Nasties.
I love running for so many reasons. It is something you can do by yourself and as I am quickly learning, something you can do with friends. I love nothing more than a run in the crisp air in the early morning as you wake up with the city but as I’m training for a marathon, sometimes I just don’t want to do the miles by myself. It gets long and grueling. Then I start to do crazy things like sing out loud to the song to keep myself going, in turn looking like a crazy person as people pass on the streets. So to keep my sanity (and from being hit), I started looking around for running groups to run with. I heard about a running group in East Nashville (where I had recently moved) and decided to give it a try. I had seen them at races and they always seemed to be having a lot of fun while encouraging each other during the race. I was curious.
When I went to my first Wednesday night run I was accompanied by two great friends, one who ran with the Nasties and had been trying to get me there for weeks. I was nervous. I hadn’t run with any kind of group like that since track. To make a 3.6 mile story short…I loved it! They are a wonderful and welcoming group of people who aren’t just there “to build fitness, but to build the community as well.” On my second run last night with the group I thought about how much runners benefit from running with a group. For me it’s a change of pace, a motivator, an encourager, a way to learn and it’s just fun. And come on, any running group that then goes out for 2-for-1’s together afterwards is alright with me! As my one friend said…hopefully they don’t completely cancel each other out!
Sure, running is all about personal determination, passion and goal-setting, however the more I learn about running, the more I believe you cannot be a successful runner without others. I am fascinated that running is a solitary sport but that it thrives and benefits in and from communities. I have already learned so much from people in these communities who know more about running than I do (which I must admit is most everyone) and I’m having a blast helping others get started. My sister just started training this week for a half in Atlanta. This is her first one and I am able to help her along and will be with her at the race every step of the way.
As I’m planning my race calendar for this year, I will definitely be including group runs and long runs with friends. I am meeting so many wonderful people through running and am growing closer to those I already knew. If you’re at the point where you need something to keep you going, check out the running groups in your area. A good place to start is to call your local running store.