I found myself in a bit of predicament last week when I had a minor oral surgery scheduled for Friday. While many others might have been concerned with pre-surgery anxiety, pain management or post op diet (no chewing!); I was worried about when I would do my long run. I was warned I would most likely be swollen and uncomfortable the first couple of days and it was recommended that I do not exercise or do any strenuous activity for a few days. Luckily, my friend Chrissy was going on vacation that week and planned to do a long run on Thursday after work from Crossroads Irish Pub (a popular starting point on Thursdays for Boston runners). I joined Chrissy for an 11 mile run from Newton to Boston. That’s a long way to go but it feels even longer after a full day of work and even longer still in the cold. Having company made it not only more tolerable but fun.
Most training seasons I have had the benefit of a group to run with and credit that fact with my successful running career. I don’t think I would continue to sign up for distance races if all the training would be solo. Luckily, I’ve always had plenty of options. Winters have revolved around Saturday morning runs out of Fitcorp One Beacon with the Run for Research team. In the summers, I have tagged along with Somerville Road Runners who often have a group meeting at ABP in Somerville for a long run. One season, Kate and I did many of our long runs in Newport, RI training for Chicago. Together we found the will power to not go out on Friday night and get up early to beat the heat on Saturday. Our reward was the whole day free for the beach.
There so many advantages to running with company including safety and motivation but also, the conversation and companionship seem to make the time and miles go by much faster. It’s not a coincidence that so many of my friends are runners. Our relationships and bonds were built on the miles. Even running with Brittany (which is often a disaster) takes the focus off of the miles and on to making sure she isn’t chasing something, about to trip me or looking to jump into the Charles. The goal transfers from getting my miles in to giving my dog a good workout, a sleepy dog is a good dog.
There are times by choice or not, that I run alone. My longest solo run has been 22 miles, the bulk of that being the Charles River loop, and it takes some mental strength and preparation to make it tolerable. A carefully selected ipod playlist is the leading player in this production. Somehow Lady Gaga, Flo Rida and Freddie Mercury always get me through but they are no match for the entertainment of fellow runners sharing the miles.
Check out Cool Running.com for a list of running clubs in your area or leave a comment with some more suggestions. Let me know your preferences on running solo or with a group.