Or, it takes a village...to raise a runner's pace. Or would that be "lower a runner's pace?" We'll just go with speed, raise a runner's speed, there we go.
A couple of my favorite running books are those authored by the duo at Another Mother Runner (they also have a pretty popular podcast). In their books they talk the importance of having a BRF, best running friend. If you're a woman, a runner, and you read, you've probably read similar things. Articles on women's running love to talk about groups of women who support each other through long runs and short or that one friend who's your perfect running partner and who you can talk to about anything while you run alongside her.
Other mother runners are the solution to many problems, these article will tell you. They can provide encouragement that's not blind; they know your struggles cause they've been there too. They know what it's like to race with a clogged milk duct (been there!) and to get up at 5 in the morning to run after being up all night with a sick toddler. Unlike your non-running friends, who think you're crazy, these ladies get it. They might still think you're crazy but they know they are too.
There's also the old tip for the "I just can't get up that early" problem: meet a friend! If you know you're meeting someone you're much less likely to hit the snooze button, the articles spout.
Me? I like to run alone. Don't get me wrong, I think I'd like to have a BRF. Heck, I'd like to have a best friend period. I've always been pretty introverted though, shy even. I feel like I've gotten better at talking to people over the last few years but it's still a struggle. Running one-on-one with someone just seems like so much pressure to keep up a conversation. Then, if I'm in a group, do I want to be the one person that's not talking? I tell myself I like to run alone, and if someone hints at running together I hint at that.
I like to be alone with my thoughts and my iPod. I have to freedom to think or not think; a break from filling toddler demands, to listen to music or just the absence of screaming. Running has been my "me-time."
My thoughts on BRFs and mother runner groups: meh. That is until I joined one.
Now, I have ran in groups in the past, but usually with a specific purpose. I've ran in training groups to get familiar with the course for an upcoming race and I've ran in a trail group to explore areas I'd like to visit again on my own without getting lost. A few times I've joined groups for long runs to break up the monotony and well, cause a lot of them have hydration stops. Typically, in races I'm a "middle of the pack" runner, or at least at the front of the back of the pack but I'm usually the slow poke on these group long runs (I think I look a lot faster than I actually am) and end up alone anyway. It's still nice to meet new people, enjoy the challenge of trying to keep up for a while, and I'm completely fine with running alone.
A couple of months ago though, I joined the local chapter of Moms Run This Town on Facebook. I figured there had to be something about this group running thing that I was missing and I was hoping to get that motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Summer is hot, my runs have been slower (and filled with walk breaks) because of it, and running after husband gets home from work is miserable. I ran in the mornings for a while last year when I was training for my first half-marathon but it's so hard to get back into the habit after slacking off for so long. The first few times I set my alarm to meet the group I ended up going back to sleep. Then I managed to get up to meet them for a long run one weekend since it wasn't quite as early. I didn't know anyone save for a couple of faces I'd seen in other groups or at races and, once again, I ended up falling behind.
This week, however, I was starting a new training plan and really needed to stay motivated and get the work done. Tuesday I had an alarm set for 5am and I actually got up, got dressed, and drove to meet a group. What I titled the run in my online log tells you what I thought.
Today I joined the same group again, this time I was a little faster though, yet not fast enough to be with the faster ladies who were running farther than me anyway. I ended up being the first to turn around and the first to make it back to the cars. To tell you the truth, I got a little lonely. I wished I had stayed back with the group even if I would have been slightly slower (I'm actually surprised at my pace for the first two miles today).
I get it now you magazine articles! I think this may be the right group for me. A group where I feel motivated to keep running with less walk breaks because I actually care about sticking with the group and not just my running plan, where I can keep up at a decent pace, and not feel like the odd woman out. It's still new to me so we'll see how it goes but so far I like this whole group thing.
Now off to order more coffee on Amazon.