Everybody needs to have some running friends....at least one or more people who will hold you accountable, encourage you, and challenge you to become a better runner. This has been my savior over the harsh New England winter we just had & more recently, this brutal heat wave we are in the middle of.
I wasn't always an early morning runner...until I started running with a group of women in my neighborhood who get up consistently for runs at 5:30 & 6 am depending on the day because of people's work schedules. This amazing group of women had been doing this for years, & when one of them I was acquainted with invited me to join along, I was thrilled & secretly flattered. I knew these women were pretty fast and competed in everything from Reach the Beach to Pinelands Ultra marathon. Though I was a little nervous and didn't know if I was someone who would enjoy running with a group...I was hooked right from the start.
Since I started running with these women, I've challenged myself in more ways than I thought were possible...physically and mentally. I've ran in 8 degree weather which here with the Seacoast winter winds translates to face-numbing, lung-burning cold. Three of them have showed up on my doorstep during torrential rains. They've also forced me to get uncomfortable with races I swore I would never do...Reach the Beach (the whole running and not sleeping to me before seemed ludicrous, it's probably one of my favorite now)...and more recently, my first full marathon (I always had considered myself more suited for the shorter distances because of my build) but they've been right there with me, every step of the way.
Which brings me to yesterday's brutal 16 mile run on heavy tight legs. In anticipation for this run (which I assumed I would be on my own since it was a week day instead of a Saturday or Sunday)...four of my gals showed up at 5:30am ready to help me with the first half of my run. One of them stuck with me for the whole thing...(she's one of the Ultra gals in every sense of the word). On top of that, one of my friend's who was not going to be able to make it, loaned me her Garmin (I haven't bothered with one but have been considering breaking down & making the investment). She used the excuse that she didn't know how to use it & that I could figure it out & teach her. I know she really just wanted to support me in any way she could.
Without my running buddies, I easily could have forfeited this run. Having a support system is so important in running because let's face it, as physically challenging as running training is, I think more times than not, it comes down to the mental toughness...it's so easy to just bag it when you're feeling horrible or to find an excuse to do it later or another day when it's not 90 degrees and 100% humidity, but when you have friends that are dropping off their gear, showing up at your doorstep, and then, checking in with you later to see how the rest of the run went...you don't want to let them down. Without even knowing it, you are slowly building up some of your mental toughness...after all, if they believe in you, maybe you should believe in you.
Ultimately, with running friends like these, I can continue to build my physical strength and mental toughness for my upcoming marathon. And quite honestly, there comes that point when running training and life overlap with the high peaks and low lows...having someone waiting at your door to support you gives you the kind of confidence and strength that readies you for any physical or mental challenge that comes your way.
- What started as a little experiment in blogging has evolved into my renewed love for writing the raw, gritty truth. Running has always had so many parallels to life's ups and downs. As a new cancer survivor/fighter, running and writing has continued to be there for me in my quest to always move forward, always try to be better than yesterday. Find me: http://www.curetoday.com/community/kate or on facebook: running, cancer, and everything in between or on twitter: runliftbreathe