I was driving over to Sheri’s house the other night to run after a jam-packed day and a big burrito. I already had 12k+ steps on my fitbit from running around at a photoshoot all day and I didn’t technically need to run. I really just wanted the miles of catch-up time and the therapy of running with a friend after a long day. As I made my way closer to the coast, I wondered when running became a social thing for me. I set my alarm clock for early morning run dates before work and I plan my work schedule around when I can run with certain people. I was never that girl before.
Back when I started running, it was an entirely solo endeavor. I’d run 20 laps around my college track and then back to my dorm room, sweaty and alone. I didn’t know anyone else who ran, so I did it on my own.
Once I moved to San Diego, I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I still didn’t have any running friends, so I ran by myself. It never even occurred to me that 20 miles with yourself could be considered lonely. I just laced up my running shoes and did it. It was my time of reflection and introspection and I didn’t realize it at the time, but it also strengthened my mental muscle big time.
Eventually I began to make friends with other runners in the community and would occasionally join them for a run here or there, but I didn’t love it. I found it distracting and sometimes even stressful because I never knew if I was going too fast or too slow for the other person. You also really need to jive with the person and be interested in what they’re saying or it makes for quite a long and tedious jaunt. I just preferred to do it on my own.
That is until I found my “sweat sisters,” as Kristin Armstrong calls them. These are the women you look forward to running with every single week. The ones you get out of bed at 5:30 in the morning for. Your runs together feel like therapy and the time on the pavement is a chance to speak freely and let it all out with zero judgement on the receiving end. You listen and nod as you sweat together and then you share whatever is on your heart. Sometimes it’s deep and raw and those miles end up being incredibly cathartic. Other times, you just chit chat and catch up on life. Regardless of the depth of conversation, these runs are always a bright spot in the busy week. You always leave better than when you showed up and you never regret the early wake-up call.
I hadn’t found my people until pretty recently but now I can’t even imagine being that lone runner doing it all on her own. How did I ever run 20 miles by myself? I guess I just didn’t know what I was missing.