This summer I knew I would have to come up with a good plan in order to force myself out the door and into the sauna we call summer in Dallas. Part one of the plan was to run early in the morning. Part two is to run with friends.
These two small actions have been an overwhelming success so far. Getting up early to run hasn’t been as painful as I thought it would be, mainly because of the second part of the plan: running with friends. If I know someone is meeting me, and I’m not going to be running alone, then I have a responsibility to get my lazy butt up out of bed and not leave them hanging. If they can do it, so can I.
Knowing that it will also be much cooler than later in the evening is another huge incentive. I have one evening run on Wednesdays, when I meet my running group. We start at 7:00pm, and the temperature is usually pushing the 100 degree mark–or above. Misery loves company, so knowing others are willing to get out there and run in the sweltering heat means I have no excuses not to join in. Running in Death Valley temperatures makes it somewhat of an adventure.
In the summer, knowing a cold beer will be waiting for me afterwards is usually enough of an incentive to keep me going. Sharing it with friends who’ve also sweated gallons beside me on the run makes it that much better.
I am incredibly lucky to have so many running friends. Most of us started out running around the same time with a local running club. We ran our first half marathons, then our first marathons together, became pace leaders and coaches with the club, then splintered off to form our own running groups. Some got involved with triathlons, some with trail running, and some with running ultramarathons. No matter what we’re doing now with others, we still come together to run.
I used to run mostly solo, especially during the week. I loved the time to myself, to ponder life and the things I struggled with at work, but now running alone is more of a chore than something I look forward to. Quite simply, it’s just not as much fun to run alone.
Running with friends keeps me:
- Motivated: If we’re training for a race together, I know they will help me get through those runs we occasionally have that don’t go the way we planned. If I struggle in a run, I know they will push me if they can. If I have a bad run, I know they’ll understand and make me feel like the next run will be better.
- Sane: I know the miles will fly by as we kid each other, laugh at the dumb things we do, push each other, gossip, complain about our aches and pains, and catch up on what’s going on at home. We may give each other a hard time and make fun of each other, but it’s only because they’re like family.
- Accountable: If we’re all training for the same race, they’re going to know when I’m not being consistent with my training. It will show in our runs. Peer pressure is alive and well with me and my friends, and I know they’re going to call me out if I say something stupid or start acting like I’m the next big thing.
- Humble: They are all amazing athletes. I can only take their advice and follow in their footsteps and hope to be half the runners they are.
- In stitches: My friends are funny. They’re also gross, uncensored, unflinching, and will say just about anything. “What’s said here, stays here” applies on every run, so there’s never any need to hold back on being outrageous. And when we’re not running, they throw good parties.
There are other reasons I run with friends. Sometimes they buy me breakfast when I didn’t bring any money, let me crash in their rooms at destination races, and run with me when they really don’t feel like it–just to keep me company. Mostly, running with friends is something I always look forward to. I might have to talk myself into running alone, especially in the summer, but if I know my friends will be there, the battle’s already won.
* Photo courtesy of Kevin Roberts