A couple of weeks ago I joined a running club through my local Running Room store. I had been thinking about it for a while as I still have not got back into the habit of running. I was unsure what to expect, but I was more than prepared to show up to a group of hard-core runners who would very quickly put me to shame, and thus make me retreat from running even more than I already have. What I discovered was the quite the opposite.
I showed up at 8:30 am at the store (oh, that’s another thing. I always though that morning runs were out of the question) and was soon joined by a diverse group of individuals who were from all walks of life and experience. Some were there to walk, some were there for their own weekly commitment, others were training for a specific race; but all were there to participate in fellowship and fun. The other thing I wasn’t sure about going into this club was running with other people. For the most part, I’ve been a solitary runner. I always thought that I was unable to run effectively with others; that I would either be slowing them down, or that I would have to sacrifice my own pace to stay with them. Also, I’m not very good with small talk, which would ultimately develop along the way. Again, what I discovered was quite the opposite. Within each distance group, there were subgroups that naturally developed as we set out. Some ran quicker than others, but as a whole we were working on the same route, toward the same goal. I soon found that by running with others, I found motivation to maintain my pace, but more than that, I also found motivation to enjoy myself as I found myself within a community that were out here early on a Sunday morning, not for self punishment or self degradation, which I will admit was the motivation of some of my running in the past, but to share the experience of running and to help each other along. Another important aspect to running with in this club is that they are well versed in pacing and interval training. Whenever I went for a run, I was aiming at doing a straight forward run; no stopping, no walking, no resting. I had worked it in my mind that if I wasn’t continuously running, really running, then it didn’t count and I was cheating myself. What I’ve come to discover is that not every run has to be a race, which was how I was treating it. I don’t always have to be working at capacity every single time. By pulling back a bit, I can allow myself to actually enjoy the run, which hasn’t happened in a long time. I even chatted with my fellow runners, if you can believe that! The main point is making the effort to get out on the road. I don’t have to exhaust myself every time to gain benefit. Train smarter, not harder; I was never good at that, but hopefully with the support of others, I can get better.
I’ve attended a couple of run clubs so far, and I intend to keep going. I hope to regain my endurance and stamina, but more than this; by running with a group, I hope to rediscover the desire to once again make running a part of my life and to look at my solo runs in a new light. When I had been running regularly, I found that it was a hard habit to break, but in the time since I stopped, I’ve found it to be an even harder habit to start. Hopefully, with the help of a few enablers in the form of a run club, I can once again get into the habit, and maybe this time it will be a habit built on health, and not just exercise.