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The importance of running with others

I used to enjoy every run, even hill repeats – but a 10 month break from regular running resulting from an achilles injury, surprisingly eroded my love for the only sport that I’ve ever embraced.  My change in attitude and commitment towards running has been shocking to my friends, but even more so to myself.

Some of the emotions involved with recovering from this injury, were more painful than my achilles itself. When I first started back, I became fearful of re-injuring myself and felt anxious every time I attempted to run.  Then I went through a period of shock at how hard running had become. I recognize now that I was torturing myself by constantly comparing my current runs to what I used to be able to do. I had become my own worst enemy. I started to believe that I may never make a comeback and I felt sorry for myself.

Luckily, over the last couple of weeks, things have finally improved and today I actually enjoyed completing a 5K. I am thankful to my running partners, especially this morning when Pamela and Sarah helped push me through to a point of complete euphoria. My running partners have helped me regain my confidence and perspective about how important running is to my life. Their patience and commitment to helping me run is a testament of them as friends, but also runners.

My running partners: Sarah, Ruth, Dania and Dawn
My running partners: Sarah, Ruth, Dania and Dawn

I used to prefer running solo, but there is no question that now I push further and run harder with help from my friends. Even though all of my family and most of my closest friends are runners, for months I’ve been avoiding group runs at the club. I’ve missed everyone, but honestly, I didn’t want to hold back my running partners from their training goals and feel like a burden. I thought I had to do this alone, but I was wrong.

After struggling to keep up with my training schedule by letting work and family commitments take priority (yet again), I finally decided that I couldn’t do this without my friends. It’s been months since I ran regularly with the club, but when I came back it felt like we had never been apart (well except for the fact that I can no longer keep up with them). My running partners watched me suffer through the achilles injury and then completely stop running. We’ve continued to hang out socially and they’ve been encouraging me to join them again for runs now that I’m healed. I’ve been declining for months and I’m thankful that I finally accepted their offer to help me.

Last year, we all ran the same pace, helped each other through a half-marathon training plan and managed to hobble through a few minor injuries together too.  Upon my return, I warned them that I’d likely need a walk-break or two, maybe even three and they said no problem. I then confessed that my pace was much slower than we used to run and again they promised to not leave my side and they didn’t. Running with them the last couple of weeks has been an amazing help. I realize that a big part what I love about running is the friendships that I’ve made; they aren’t just important to my improvement as a runner, but they are also important to my life.

Heart & Sole Running Club in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - is a free not-for-profit group open to all runners.
Heart & Sole Running Club in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – is a free, not-for-profit group and open to all runners.

There have even been members in the club that I’ve never run with who also have offered advice, assisted me at track and some simply give me a smile and tell me it’s nice to see me back, which also feels great. To everyone at the club, I am forever grateful for your support, compassion and kindness. The running community is simply amazing. When you are down they work together to bring you back up.

If you are struggling with running – join a running club. Running can sometimes be difficult and lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.