Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner

This week's Take It and Run Thursday is all about Running Communities. I don't know what it is about me and TIART, but once again, I find myself bursting into song. So, with apologies to George Thorogood and the Destroyers...

The other day I went running
Wanted to get back to the basics
So I grabbed up my pal Garmin
And her partner, the Asics

And we ran alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I run alone
I prefer to be by myself

One of the things I love best about running is that I can do it by myself. Yes, in general, I like the other humans who populate this planet, and I think runners are awesome. But I like having my own schedule. I like that if I linger a few minutes too long drinking coffee before heading out for a long run that it doesn't affect anyone else. I like not having to worry if I am going too fast or too slow.

I like not being responsible for anybody else but me.

In my regular life, both as a mom and at work, I have to organize other people all the time. Much of the time, it falls on me to make sure everything gets done and gets done right. It's a relief not to have to do it when it comes to running.

And yet...

While I don't long for a group to go running with, I do wish that I could get together with some other runners after I go running. We'd eat a big pile of carbs and have super nerdy running related conversations that non-runners could not even begin to feign interest in.

Well, thank Yoda for the internet. It might not be my dream pasta binge with friends, but I can talk to my BRF's any time about the excitement of a new pair of shoes, how I rocked out last night's track workout (which I totally did, by the way, and I think I might be secretly Kenyan), and how upset I was when my knee was bothering me. And I get just as excited about the races my BRF's are running as if I were there.

Thanks to BRFs, I get the solitude and independence that I want when I hit the road with my friends the Garmin and the Asics, but I still have other runners to geek out with. It's the best of both worlds


Running Knitter said...

It truly is the best of both worlds. I never looked at it that way so thank you for posting this. :)

newsjunkie said...

I know exactly what you mean! I love that I can just pick up at lunchtime and go run on the trail by myself and just get away for a while. Although I used to have someone who ran with me, I definitely preferred my solo running days.

And with Team In Training, I love the people and I love hanging with them before and after our runs, but I also love that while I'm running I can drop back and run by myself if I want to. And then at the end they're there to share the excitement of me completing a ridiculously long run.

Steve said...

My wife is secretly Kenyan! That's awesome!

Marcy said...

I'm absolutely the same way! Even though I like to run by myself, I do *heart* my RBF's :-)

Nat said...

I love my running ladies too, we are really laid back though and it's a come as you are. But there is something to be said for long solo runs. I love them.

(I love the Thoroughgood.)

As for BRF... I love them all.


The Laminator said...

Well said. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a dissociative runner, but I love association with BRFs. Great post.

Ovens2Betsy said...

Too funny -- even though I had already read this post I had forgotten you started with a song. Great minds think alike (or should it be, "great Betsy's think alike?" :)

Reluctant Runner said...

Boy, you really captured the pleasure of running by yourself! I recently joined a marathon running group (didn't think I could train to run that distance for the first time alone). They are a great support but I miss the freedom and solitude of setting my own running schedule. Thank for the excellent post.

Shilingi-Moja said...

I, too, generally like running by myself. Like you said, it's time and pace and route and thoughts that I control. That being said, though, I really enjoy the times that I get to run with others. Usually, that happens when I'm traveling. It's fun to explore a new route and place with a friend. And, it's actually good for me to run with others both for the socializing and for the running challenge.

I joined the YMCA training team for an upcoming 10K and hoped to actually get to know some folks in this part of Richmond. That's been partially successful and I enjoyed running with Todd today -- I think we challenged each other and passed the miles just chatting.


Nibbles said...

I get what you mean ... sometimes, when I'm out with my group, I just pick up the pace so I can run alone. Then I think, "WTH am I doing here?"

I love your posts about running ... so introspective.

P.O.M. said...

I'm with ya - i LOVE running alone. But I have one big "EXCEPT" when I'm running 20+ miles. But a group run creeps me out. One perfect running buddy is all I need. However, they are few and far between.

bill carter said...

Hi Betsy

I really do enjoy reading your posts and they always seem to strike a chord with me. Like you, I like that when i go running it is me, myself, and I. Fortunately, my family gives me this time of solitude or I might just go insane...

In my regular life as a dad and a doctor, I have to take care of everyone else. When I run, it is just me.. at least for a little while.

Thanks for the great post.