I have always run alone. In the beginning I ran alone because I felt so awkward about running. I could only run very short distances without getting winded. I was painfully aware of my heavy breathing and self conscious about jiggly body parts. I typically ran in places where few people would see me.
As the running became more comfortable so did my feelings about running. I run anywhere and everywhere now. I no longer care who sees me. However, I still run alone. It’s my alone time. It’s my time to clear my head, to be silent, to think and do something healthy for myself.
The only time I run with others is during a race. I love the social aspect of a race. I particularly love the supporters cheering along the road. Races motivate me. Training for a race provides a focus for running on a regular basis. As I’ve mentioned before I thrive when I have a schedule to follow. Oddly enough even in a race setting I still feel as though I am running alone. I never feel competitive with anyone but myself. I almost always enter a race with the intention of beating my last time in a race of the same distance.
I will train for the Disney Marathon entirely on my own. All the while my cousin, Jenna, is training a Team in Training group of runners in Fort Lauderdale, FL who will also run the Disney Marathon. My cousin has run numerous marathons including Disney and more recently the Paris Marathon as a member of TNT. TNT runners raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Jenna has always run as a member of a TNT group. It’s been interesting to share our experiences and the differences between running solo and running as a part of a group. She is a huge inspiration to me.
Jenna includes me in all of her team’s correspondence and I receive their monthly training schedule to follow if I want to. I’ve enjoyed reading about the team activities and some of the team members. I’m honored to be a virtual team member and I plan to make a donation to the team at the end of the training. Jenna assures me that she will push me along the marathon course with her words of encouragement just as she will for the rest of the team.
While I envy the built in emotional support a team offers as well as the expertise of the coach, I realize that running as a part of a team, unfortunately, does not work with my life right now. I have to plan my runs around my husband’s work schedule, my son’s school schedule and social life!, and my work and sleep schedule. Since my husband and I work different shifts it is often up to me to find childcare to accommodate my runs. It would be very difficult to commit to working with a team and following their set training schedule. Besides that the only TNT teams in Massachusetts are in the Boston area.
We do have a couple of local running groups and I would like to check them out next year when I am not actively training for a marathon. I think what I like the most about the thought of running with a group is meeting people with similar interests and learning about new opportunities and experiences. What I imagine I would like least is feeling like I am holding someone back and actually talking to people while running since I love listening to music while running. But who knows, I might absolutely love it. If there is one thing running has taught me, it’s to never say never.