When I first started running, it was by myself. Dreamboat came along a little bit afterward, wanting to join me and I was excited for the chance to do something that we both love together. A bit later I got my friend Kat to join me and we ran together for a lot of training runs when Brian and I weren’t able to go. Kat got really addicted to running and even has a marathon under her belt. She did a lot of races I didn’t, and vice versa. We were practically inseparable, the three of us.
But then Brian had a job change that let him to travel every day, and the time for even a quick three mile run was non existent. He was so tired at the end of his 14 hour day, I couldn’t blame him for needing to just come home and sit on the couch and stare blankly at the television. So I would usually get up with him and meet Kat in the mornings before she had to take the kids to school. We’d usually run 3-4 miles, doing speed work and bridge work, and I’d be heading to my home to shower and get ready by 6:30am. Two and a half hours before I had to go to work.
Now, Kat isn’t as free as she used to be since she is working again. She’s a teacher and a wife and a mother of 2. I understand her commitments and we tried to make it work timing wise but it just didn’t. Now, she’s really hard to get in touch with and that has more to do with life obligations than anything else.
So I run alone now. And I’ve learned a lot about running solo.
There are things I like about running solo: I get to listen to my music, which I get lost in all the time. I get to go my pace, and take walk breaks when necessary without apologizing to anyone. I can push it and kick it up a notch without making sure my partner is ready for it. I can run when I want, not at a set time determined by when our schedules align. I can be gross and use my shirt as a snot rag if I wanted to or fart up a storm all loud and noisy and not worry about those side eyes. I get to focus on working on myself, without having to hear someone else tell me things that I don’t want to hear (whether positive or negative) because I know how to motivate myself to get out there and do what needs to be done.
I prefer to run solo. I don’t mind meeting up with a group of people and then taking off and doing my own run, but over all I prefer to be alone. Getting lost in my music, or in my thoughts… playing with plot bunnies and dancing around with the ideas playing in my head without the necessity of having to deal with other people who may or may not understand how lost I get in my own head is taxing.
But there are also things I miss about running with a partner. It was a lot easier to get up in the morning to run when I had a set time to meet someone and long runs are a lot more doable when you have someone to run with, who might also talk your ear off so you don’t think about the miles you are covering. And sometimes when I run with friends like Kat, it’s the only time we have a chance to really run and catch up since we are usually too busy to see each other outside of that. And sometimes I get lonely on the road alone.
So I’m torn: I prefer to run alone, but miss companionship. How does that even work?
Running alone is a chance for me to escape reality and do my thing. I’m running my pace and my race and my run, and I’m doing it because I want to. I do my research, I find training programs that I can manage with my odd ball schedule, I talk to other runners and get their input on things I’m confused on. Then I formulate a plan that is consistent with my own personal situations and I execute that plan as much as I can. And on race day, it’s about me and my race…not what others think I should be doing.
Running in a group allows camaraderie and company, laughter and someone to complain to when you are ready to die. There is support there. Kat and I have run a plethora of races together and crossed the finish line together and enjoyed the time. Brian and I finished the Space Coast Half last year together, walking most of the race, after his knee gave out about 6 miles in. Heather ran the Suburu Half after my surgery and hugged me as I cried crossing the finish line, finish a race for the first time without a migraine. And of course there are those ‘social runs’ that I used to do with Kat, where we spend hours running miles without a time frame or a care, laughing and catching up, stopping to walk around water breaks. Social Runs were our long runs, getting miles in while being able to catch up as friends.
Now that I have been running by myself for so long, I’m realizing that I tend to prefer it over running with someone (unless it’s a long run, then I miss running with someone.) I know I’ve hurt some feelings with my desire to stay running solo. Friends have been crushed when I tell them I’m not interested in meeting with them every morning to run (once or twice is enough) and those who want to coach me have been offended that I have blown off their offers. I don’t have a reason more specific than “that’s what I want.” Unless, again, I’m doing a long run, then I want anyone who will talk me through those miles because I love my music, but even that can get mundane after a while.
I do plan on getting a coach in the future to help me get some race goals. I still have yet to nail that 2:30 half marathon time, and I’m curious as to how fast I can get the Gate River Run down to. But that’s in the future, when life has settled down to a consistent flow of life. For now, I do the solo run thing.
What do you prefer?