“The road seems much shorter when shared with a friend”
Recently, my husband and I were invited by a friend to join him and some of his fellow running friends on a Sunday morning 5 mile run. First, let me say that at this point, my average run was about 3 miles, and I had only ran a full 5 miles once before, which was when I completed my first 10K earlier in the year. So needless to say, a 5 mile run with other runners (who I should mention had all already completed a several half and full marathons at this point in their lives) made me slightly anxious. To be honest, meeting new people in general already makes me a little nervous. A whirlwind of questions and worries usually go through my head, such as – Will they be nice? Will they like me? And in this case specifically – Will I be holding them back by running annoyingly slow and will they hope I never run with them again?? However, despite being a little nervous about meeting new people, keeping up with the group, and being able to run 5 miles at all, I was super excited about making new friends, especially ones who shared my love for running. So without hesitation, we accepted the invitation, set our alarm clock for 6:30am and gave up a sleep-in Sunday morning to meet some new people, hit the running trails, and bank some miles.
A couple of pretty awesome things happened that morning. One, we made new running friends (and they were very nice and supportive I must add!), and two, I was reminded to stop doubting myself. I completed those 5 miles with the group and felt great afterwards. I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for, we all are. After making these new friends and experiencing what it’s like to run with a group, I realized how beneficial running friends can be. Let me take some time and convince you; below is a list I compiled of the benefits of running with current friends, making new running friends, and joining a local running group!
1. You Share a Common Interest
Plain and simple, you share a powerful common interest – the love, passion, and obsession of all things running. These are some truly awesome friends because, well, they just get it. These friends won’t roll their eyes at you when you talk about your mileage, personal records, injuries, blisters, new running accessories, or when you basically correlate anything and everything back to running. Running friends completely understand, and they are willing and excited to hear all of your running stories!
2. They Motivate You
It’s kind of inevitable, we will all have days that we want to skip out on running. Those days we would rather stay home, plop on the couch, and do absolutely nothing. Those days where we could come up with two big handfuls of excuses (you are too tired, you are too sore, you have too many things to do around the house, it’s too hot outside, it’s too cold outside, it’s raining, it looks like it might start raining) but we all know they are just that, excuses. Running friends motivate you to get up and get out on these days we lack the energy or desire, and you get to do the same for them in return. You steer each other clear of the slippery slope of skipping days and you keep each other from sabotaging your running routines. Having someone to encourage and motivate you is priceless on those hard to get moving days. It’s like having your own cheerleader along your journey.
3. You Get Your Own Social Hour
Let’s face it, most of us are pretty busy, all of the time. Our schedules are packed with work, home, errands, chores, appointments, family events, and getting kids from here to there. It’s super hard sometimes to get any time to yourself. With running friends though, you get a two for one deal – your running time also counts as your social hour! It’s your daily dose of socializing, sharing stories, catching up, laughing, and running away the stresses of your day, together with a friend!
4. They Give Us Goals and Encourage Us to Meet Them
Many times we sell ourselves short of what we are capable of doing, sort of like I did when I doubted that I could run those 5 miles with the group that Sunday morning. Running friends, however, know we can do it; they don’t doubt our abilities the way we do ourselves. They push us, encourage us, and help us set and reach for new goals. There was a day not too long ago that I thought I would never be able to run a half marathon (actually, I still have moments where I wonder if I can), but because of new running friends, my husband and I will be signing up for our first one at the end of this year, and we will train with the group along the way. They gave us 13.1 reasons to sign up which were all fun, motivating, and encouraging. They have given us the gift of setting a great goal that I never thought possible before. I only hope they are there with us when we cross the finish line and I cry like a baby in probably both pain and a kind of joy I have never experienced, and that we get to thank them for all of the encouragement they gave us along the way.
5. You Learn all of the Latest
Hanging around fellow runners will expose you to all sorts of running tips, experiences, the latest gear and gadgets, and much more! You might learn about a new local race to sign up for, discover new songs to put on your running playlist, get feedback and reviews on the newest activity trackers, and find out which new running shoes people love or hate. It’s awesome and beneficial to be able to ask others for their advice on injury prevention, stretches, healthy recipes, and time management, especially when it’s all from personal experience. Runners are full of running knowledge, soak it up!
6. You Get to Race Together
Races are fun, exciting, memorable times throughout your running journey, and what better way to run a race than with a friend by your side. I will never, ever forget my racing “firsts”. My first 5K and my first 10K were both in Walt Disney World with my very best running friend, and those memories will be treasured my entire life. You have each other to motivate, congratulate, and share in the memories you are making together. When you have running friends, you have racing friends!
7. It Makes Running Easier
It really does! There is something about running with other people that makes it easier and makes the time go by faster than running alone. If I had set out on that Sunday morning to run those 5 miles alone, it would have been much more challenging. Running is a LOT mental. In my personal experience, your mind will likely tell you it’s time to stop way before your legs do. Running with others distracts you from hitting the mental wall. While you are talking to one another and encouraging one another, you find that the time and the miles go by much easier and faster!
I have been on hundreds of solo runs and they have all been rewarding in their own individual ways. Running alone is something I need sometimes to clear my mind, run away from it all, and be with my own thoughts. However, I recently realized how wonderful, fun, and encouraging it can be to run with friends that share the same passion as I do for running. I am so excited that my husband and I joined the running group on that Sunday morning, and I look forward to continuing to build running friendship that hopefully last a lifetime. Consider asking a friend or a neighbor if they want to join you for a run one day, or, if you know someone that already runs, ask if you can join them next time they hit the road. If you know of a local running group and you just haven’t had the courage to meet up with them yet, now is the time to go for it! There are too many benefits not to (see 1-7 above again if you weren’t convinced the first time!). If you don’t know of any running groups in your area, try doing a search for meet up groups that are organized over the internet such as meetup.com. Don’t worry about your pace or your current ability, runners understand what it’s like to be a beginner. They are some of the most supportive, encouraging people I know. I myself would love for others to join me and fall in love with running. What are you waiting for? It’s time to make some friends with running benefits!
If I missed a benefit of a running friend that you have experienced, please share it below! I would love to hear how running friends and groups have helped you along your journey. What are some of the stories and memories you have made with running friends? How have they helped you along the way, and what advice can you give others who are looking for those running buddies?