Monday, March 2, 2009

Running with a group [or - the only way to run long distances]

I've done a few long distance runs by myself in the not too distant past. They were enjoyable, I guess. But the distance is hard to cover, and the speed is hard to keep up. Your mind starts to mess with your body, convincing your legs that they don't need to keep moving. Each step is a struggle, and small inclines are torture. There is nothing to occupy your mind but the beating of your feet on the pavement and the fact you have not reached your destination yet.

I have to say that running by myself is often quite enjoyable and a great time for self-reflection, but the long runs start to wear on me.

The last two Saturdays were long runs, but this time with a small group. What a difference it makes. There is conversation. There is always someone to push the pace. There is trash talking. And when the going gets tough, there is distraction and usually at least one other person willing to drop back for a while.

I've mentioned in a post or two that I've been on these runs with Dan, a coworker of mine. His dad, Cliff, the self proclaimed non-runner, and Dan's buddies Tim and Jared also join in the mix. Dan and Jared have both done half Ironmans and are in way better shape than I, which keeps the pace moving. Both runs we stayed right around 9 min/mile pace, but last Saturday we ran the last 2 miles (of 8+) in 16:30.

What makes running with someone so much different? I'm not sure I could explain why. Is it the knowledge that there are others suffering? Camaraderie? Competition? I'm sure it is a hybrid of those and more. 

This week we are heading out for 9+ miles, which will be my longest run ever. Hopefully that group mentality keeps me moving.

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