The running community around me keeps positively growing 😀
Colleagues at work join our lunch break runs more often, colleagues become friends, more friends join runs on weekdays or weekends, small family members start joining a few sessions… the numbers just keep growing. I ask myself the question what is it about? Is it really about the numbers? Is it about making kilometres? Is it about loosing weight? Is it about beating your targets and collecting achievements?
Do you ever ask yourself that question? What is it about running after all?
I run often…
I run alone and I run with others…
The format of the runs differs from day to day and while the motivation, the runners and the location varies, there is commonality between them.
Lunch breaks on weekdays
As we strive at work to perform, it is challenging to find the time to exercise on workdays. I’m a perfectionist and love to get things done, which means that most of the time I engage too deeply on the tasks my professional life demands of me. I’ve found however that my lovely morning runs are challenging to keep when my kids need my support to get out of the house and go to school. Family affairs always require evening time to clean up the task list, hence going to bed early, so I can wake up fresh in the morning, just stopped working at some point in time. On the other hand, as a dedicated dad, I love being home in the evening to help my wife with the kids, plus having dinner together. This is why for the past couple of years, running during the week means blocking some lunch time in my agenda and just… go!
A long list of other runners are doing the same and it always feels great to go in a pack for a jog outside, being it a sunny or a cold rainy dark day outside. Impediments are the usual suspects: meetings which can’t be postponed or get delayed, workloads which prevent us from taking the time to exercise, business travel, etc.
Somehow though we have a pretty good routine and keep getting together… what is it about?
Each runner has its own challenge. It is quite common to find the ones which seek their next achievement in a race. Others just want to get the blood warmed-up and flowing in some particular day of the week. We can look at others: weight-loss, fitness, running form… The rationales pile up.
Intervals training sessions are now a regular way to get the community together and allow each runner to work towards its own goals, benefiting from the motivation and positiveness of the group. Impediments are the usual suspects: fearing the tough workout which lays ahead, the pain to be endured during the session, regardless of the different paces (i.e. speed) each one may have. At the end of the day, we end up each and all challenging each other for more.
Somehow here we also have a pretty good routine and keep getting together, instead of finding excuses to quit… again, what is it about?
Official running activities is what one may call ‘races’, as this is the stage where we seek to get our achievements recorded. There are recurring events we join throughout the year, where it is easier to find familiar faces, share individual targets, motivate each other and party in the end all together.
Races are however very challenging. Most of the times we get into it to challenge ourselves, to go beyond our limits, to beat ourselves: our previous time, our previous distance, our previous achievement. The keyword here is pain. A runner knows he’ll go through it, fights his internal fears and intrinsic doubts and yet… feels attracted by the possibility of achieving something great.
How can one train on the weekend without compromising family plans? In my case the recipe has been found a long time ago. The solution is to wake up early enough on Sundays (yes, on Sundays!) to be able to go outside, have my run while everyone’s asleep at home (sometimes as early as 4:30 AM in case of long runs) and return home with fresh bread from the bakery, just in time for a joint meal with the ones I love.
In my craziness there are those that join me often. The complains are usually the same: Sundays are not done for an early wakeup, the weather is lousy, the previous day had a night out, etc.
The interesting thing is that, one way or the other, fellow runners always join me in my insanity when I call for group running sessions. The question is simple: why?
Best time of the year, isn’t it? For a runner at heart this means that there is a natural pull into doing sports. Well… hold on! Aren’t holidays about resting, enjoying the beach, drinking good wine with friends, spending time with family, watching good movies on the cinema and so on?
I’m usually able to keep my running routine during my vacation and bring friends along at certain occasions. Challenging it is, in the midst of so many things to do, managing agendas between planned leisure activities and the ones from friends, which often are actually at work.
It still works though…
So where does it all come from?
I’ve gathered a few photos on this post. They’re a compilation from group runs on weekdays, painful intervals sessions, races and (very) early weekend sessions. The commonality is social happiness: cheerful faces and beautiful smiles. People coming together and enjoying time, pushing positive energy to each other through the form of motivation, sharing painful moments and overcoming them not as individuals but as a team.
Endorphins have a good contribution as well, as runners get high with its production. Natural opiates that act as painkiller chemicals in response to physical discomfort, endorphins create good-feel effects on athletes. Though endorphins are really nice 🙂 , I truly believe that it is our smiles that makes us come for more.
Running alone is a way of focusing on thoughts, solving inner issues or just getting your mind empty. It is a great way of reaching the beloved void. Running in a group is great as well, absolutely refreshing, as you get the social benefits and your mind fluctuates between following the challenges forced by your peers, enjoying a nice conversation or just having fun wherever you are running.
If you’re planning to start running, do it with friends. That makes it so much easier.
As I invited earlier this week a set of friends for a Sunday early morning run, I long for the moment when everyone puts up a big smile up for the camera at the end of the session. And I’m confident that everyone joining truly comes with that secret intention too 😉