Until a little over a year ago, running was a rather solitary sport for me. Aside from long runs with my husband, I ran alone. It was my time to feel free, sort out thoughts, and generally de-stress. Although these things are still an important part of running for me, I’ve found renewed excitement in running by joining friends and groups on social runs and also by being active in the Twitter and blogging community.
Why did I shy away from social running for so long? Easy. I was super intimidated, afraid of being too slow, and thought anyone I ran with would be completely annoyed at me for those things. I avoided running with friends and groups at all costs. I was even skeptical about sharing times with friends or via social media.
Moving from Michigan to California was the big change that led me to find running friends and to engage with the running community in general. It’s hard to explore a new city and running trails alone, especially in a metro area so much more expansive than I was used to in Ann Arbor. I began running with a group in Campbell, met quite a few runners at work, and even found new run friends on Twitter and at race expos. Through these same methods, I discovered Oiselle Team and the SF Marathon Ambassador group.
Each new person or group made me nervous, but overcoming the fear and realizing how awesome the running community can be was amazing. No one was upset if I needed to slow down or take a break, and no one judged my race finish times. Instead, they were incredibly supportive of my personal goals and cheered for my successes. I learned that runners understand each other, and we all have good days and bad days and work through them the best we can.
Social running has not only helped me to explore the area and meet new people; it has made me a better runner. I increased my weekly mileage because it was so much fun to meet up with friends. I found faster paces when I needed to work hard to keep up, and those faster paces started to feel normal. I ran more races (and had more PRs!) when I wanted to join friends for race day fun. I met and became inspired by bloggers, Oiselle Team ladies, and SFM Ambassadors. Most importantly, I attribute my 2012 racing successes and newfound confidence to all of the above.
I can’t imagine I’m the only one who had fears about running with new people, and I hope this post shows why we all should give it a try. Find running buddies at a local running store, social media inspiration, or even join a training group in 2013 and make it your best running year yet!