May 19, 2014
One of the biggest fears for new runners (and particularly overweight and unfit runners) is the thought of running with someone else.
Having someone else witness my red face, my inability to breath properly, having to walk every few minutes – oh the shame!!
Nope. It’s easier to just go out alone.
Well that’s how I felt for at least the first 5 or 6 years of my running journey.
I had an irrational fear that if I ran with someone else I would be forced to run at their faster pace and show myself up. It was simply a control thing.
Even when I signed up for races with friends I went out of my way to explain that I wouldn’t run more than the first 500 meters or so with anyone else. I just couldn’t take the pressure.
All of that changed when I joined a running club. When you run with a club it’s inevitable that you have to run with someone else, and it tends to be the same someone else most of the time. For me the resident back runner at my club Dom. Joining a club was a drastic last resort option for me back in 2011 as I knew I had to increase my frequency, distance and speed of running in preparation for my first marathon, I couldn’t do it alone.
I learned a lot about myself the first few months of running with others, mainly that I wasn’t in this by myself anymore. I also learned
That you have to communicate
That you do tend to run faster
That it can be a nice way of meeting people and breaking up a long run
That falling behind wasn’t the worst thing in the world
That nobody really cares if you are slower than them
However I still had this niggling concern that secretly the person stuck with me at the back thinks “oh no” as I poke my head around the door on club night.
In the last few months though my thoughts on this have changed somewhat, and this because the shoe is on the other foot now.
I now run fitness sessions for others, I make plans to ensure anyone can participate regardless of their ability, I run at the pace of people that are slower than me. Now I know that in this context I am being paid to do that supporting role, but even when I ran with two of my sisters in their first races it felt good to be focussed on their goals not mine.
Too often we make assumptions about what others are thinking and feeling about a situation and this holds us back.
Yesterday I read a story about two teenage sisters in America who were competing in a track race. One of the girls sustained an injury while running and couldn’t continue, so her twin forfeited her race and carried her sister on her back so they could both finish.
The moral is clear to see.
But remember in life there is a time to receive support and a time to give it. Don’t be held back by irrational fear, giving someone the opportunity to support is a gift and it will be as rewarding for them as it is beneficial to you.
Don’t be one of those “I can only run alone” people forever, be bold, reach out, take a chance find yourself a buddy, join a club, sign up for a retreat who knows how your running and your resolve will improve as a result.