My father was from the Bronx. My mother grew up in Queens. The Bronx, home to the New York Yankees, was certainly the “cooler” borough of the two. As a kid, I’m not sure I knew anyone from Brooklyn. Historically, the Irish settled in the Bronx and Queens. Can’t recall ever going to Brooklyn. Although, my father told stories about horrendous subway rides back from a day at Coney Island – after sustaining blistering sunburns on his fair Irish skin – back before the train cars were air-conditioned. He always said he’d take me to Coney Island to ride the Cyclone. He never did.
The Surf City Half Marathon last Sunday was better than expected. The last time I ran with my boyfriend it was a six mile training run on the first Saturday in December near his home in Illinois. About two miles in, I stopped laid down on the grass and didn’t want to get up. I did. But I felt it was going to be a long road back. Surf City was only eight weeks away.
When I started running over twenty years ago I liked the solitude of it. It was an escape of sorts. “Me” time. Find a training partner is advice often given to new runners because the idea is that if you know someone is waiting for you, you’ll get up and out, not wishing to let them down. Or maybe, as my mother would say, “misery loves company.” Regardless, it’s not bad advice. The camaraderie among fellow runners certainly provides motivation. I always recommend that new runners join a beginner group training program* because of the motivation created by being part of something bigger than yourself. When I started out, however, I was a loner and that suited me just fine. Then.
Everyone starts running for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that any of us actually liked to run. I have found that we are mostly running away from something or to something. A lot of runners I know are former addicts. Many are avoiding difficult relationships. Almost everyone starts running as a means to cope with some sort of stress or anxiety. When I started running I needed to be alone. Some people do better as part of a group. Others don’t. It probably depends a lot on your personality plus the reason you’re running.
I joined a running club about 15 years ago. I didn’t start participating in any of the group runs until much later however. One winter they started a Saturday morning group run of various distances and paces. Knowing that there were people I could run with got me up and out almost every weekend during those cold months. I began to see the advantages of training partners and running friends. I remember being glad that my mother died on a Tuesday morning because that was the day of my club’s summer evening workout and I needed to be with supportive people and to run off the hurt. I have found races to be more fun when there are others that care about my results almost as much as I do. Running, I found, could be a team sport and those relationships have become some of my most rewarding and most cherished.
No surprise then that I would now find myself in a romantic relationship with a fellow runner. As runners, he and I understand one another on a level that those who came before could not. Running together, we are completely in sync. Running, even when living and training 800 miles apart, is a bond that motivates us everyday. Although there are a million and one reasons why I’m connected so fully to this wonderful man, he has become the motivation for why running continues to figure so prominently in my life everyday. Because there is someone I want to be accountable to about my training, because I want to be able to run with him, because I know he’ll be there at my side for those long runs (literally and figuratively), and lastly because he signs us up for races months in advance, so I have no choice but to keep training. 🙂
There are runners who have amazingly successful partnerships with people who don’t run. So I’m not saying that can’t work. There’s a magnitude of reasons we connect with the people we do; successful relationships are not one-dimensional. That said, it’s important for us to surround ourselves with people that motivate us to be better. If you want to be a runner, or a better runner, or a more motivated runner, spend some time regularly with other runners.
“Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dream lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle.” – Seth Godin
After that weekend in early December when I crashed and burned on a six mile run, I got motivated. He was so understanding. He acknowledged my difficultly and reminded me of all that I had been able to achieve in the past and encouraged me to keep going. I did the training I needed to do to get to the start – and the finish – of the Surf City Half Marathon. I ran strong. Every step in sync with him. And the road back wasn’t as long as I thought it was going to be because I had never really abandoned my training completely. With another runner figuring so prominetly in my life, I just couldn’t. At the very least, I’d still have to talk about running.
Huntington Beach, California. Home of the Surf City Marathon and Half. February 2017.
Looking for something for your Runner Valentine? I found a really cute, and super comfortable running top at the Surf City Expo from AEVOK APPAREL. To get yours and see what they have for men, go to AEVOK.COM. (and no they didn’t pay me or even give me a discount for this endorsement. Just some really nice people making some really cool stuff).
*If you are in the Bergen County, New Jersey area, my running club has an awesome Beginner to Finisher 5k program that begins on March 18. Click here for more information.