Today the thing that I miss the most about running is the other runners. Perhaps a product of the fact that I missed a race this weekend that friends were racing? Perhaps a product of too many days in the pool and on the trainer with no one to talk to? (Face it, it’s very hard to talk while swimming. I could talk while spinning, but if anyone caught me talking to myself they’d think I was crazy. A high risk, because there’s no way they think that already when they walk in to the gym and I’m doing intervals on the trainer and am more drenched than if I had jumped into a swimming pool with all my clothes on.) Perhaps it’s that all my running friends are posting about/talking about/writing about/getting to run with their runner friends as the weather gets beautiful in Seattle?
I’ve generally a solitary athlete, and generally that’s just fine. I love love love talking about sport, and I love friendly competition at the track, I love me a group lake swim in the summer, I love talking races, goals, advice, and the like. But sometimes I feel better off cranking out a long run (or progression run, or hill repeats, or etc.) on my own time. Probably a product of my first athletic love (gymnastics), but I’m usually truly happy pushing myself by myself.
Competition forces me to my limits, but it can also cause me anxiety, so when I choose to train in a group I think hard about the goal of the day and whether the competition will help or hurt it. Exceeding limits is usually where it’s at, but sometimes the pressure isn’t productive. I have to make conscious decisions to keep myself on track; this I know about myself. Well, that and generally no one is interested in a progression run at 5am in the dark windy rain anyway. Weird. Super super weird.
That said, I MISS MY RUNNING FRIENDS! I miss track Tuesdays. I miss seeing the same people running around Lake Union a few mornings per week. I miss giving and receiving the side-glancing nod. You know, the one runners give when you’re working too hard to muster anything else. I miss the sideways rain and cold dark mornings and passing other people who are dedicated enough to fight it, too. I miss short conversations with runners at stop lights. I miss seeing other runners and not saying a thing, and knowing that we’re all out there together.
I’ve grown to
believe know that one of the best things about our sport is the other runners. Yes, other runners are the competition, but they’re also the best running support that someone could ask for (aside from my loving, dedicated, and awesome sherpa). They know how to heal your injury with words of encouragement, and they know when a simple “that sucks,” is the healing you really need. They offer the accurate level of “congrats” deserved post-race depending on how well you did versus what you all know that you’re capable of. They know how hard you have worked, and how much it want it. And you know all of this about them.
I’m anxious about my first runs to come. I am worried they’ll hurt, that I’ll have to spend more time in the boot, and that I’ll have lost more strength and fitness than I’d like. I see people posting half marathon times this weekend (that I’ve beat) and all I can think is how painful their paces sound. I said it last week but I’ll say it again: the worst part about being injured is not feeling like an athlete anymore. In a three-week span every race I’ve run, the gains I’ve made, and the work I’ve put in has evaporated into a happy memory. Without the day-to-day – and the ability to run – it’s somehow intangible for me to comprehend or think about these things that are true.
I know that I need is to not think it. Physically, I need to keep resting and cross-training and to heal up.
But it’s hard, because what I psychologically need is a run with friends. Real real bad.