I ran as a lone wolf for years, avoiding joining a group, often turning down invitations to run with even friends. I enjoyed the time alone. I worried that I would hold them back. Besides, other than unit runs while in the Marine Corps, I'd always done it that way. I was comfortable running alone. So why join the crowd?
All that changed a year ago when I decided to join the Cabot Country Cruisers for a Memorial Day run to our local veterans memorial. I've been running with them ever since, and none of my former fears proved founded. I learned that running clubs aren't just for elite athletes. Our club has those who could nearly outrun the mechanical rabbit at a dog track, but they also have members whose best pace is a walk and others who run at every pace in between. I found folks who run about the same pace I do, some faster and some slower.
I also found that I actually enjoy the company on my runs too. A little conversation can really make the miles pass more quickly. Small talk or discussions about matters of grave importance take your mind off less than ideal weather conditions, minor aches and pains, and even the countless footfalls it takes to cover the distance.
Today's run illustrated my favorite part of running with a group though...motivation. It was one of those days that I just couldn't seem to ever get into the run. The entire 6 miles seemed a struggle I almost had to drag myself through. Several times, especially toward the end, I seriously considered stopping to walk. But I didn't.
I'm not sure why I couldn't get into it. I had a really easy time yesterday, only two miles at a really easy pace. I ate well and was fully hydrated. I didn't feel sick at all. It was just an off day.
Running and life are similar in that manner. You can have an off day running, where nothing goes right and nothing feels right, and it's everything you can do to get through it. Just like in life. Days when everything you touch goes bad just happen sometimes. There doesn't have to be a reason. It's not necessarily punishment for some sin or the direct result of some action on your part. Today was just a tough running day.
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" -- Ecclesiastes 4:10But friends, a group to run with, can keep you going. How many times have you not felt like doing something but did it anyway because your plans involved someone else? How many times were you having a rough day and a friend's hand on your shoulder, a hug, or just being willing to listen to you vent got you through it?
I hung in there and finished, even though my mind and body were both telling me to just stop. Every time the urge to stop came over me, the others came to mind. They were still going, so I could keep going too.
It's like that sometimes. Nobody has to say a word, but you keep going because the crowd keeps going. If someone else had stopped to walk, I probably would have too. If another had even mentioned a desire to take a walk break, I likely would have agreed and we'd have stopped. But nobody did. It's possible no one else felt like I did, but it could also be someone else was thinking exactly what I was. They didn't stop either, because the group kept going.
Sometimes the fact that people are expecting me is thing that gets me out on the road. There are days the alarm goes off and I just don't feel like running. But knowing there are people expecting me to be somewhere forces me to drag myself up and get ready. After the run, 99% of the time, I'm glad I got out of bed and on the pavement. But I might not have if I hadn't been running with a group.
So if you're like I was, hesitant to join a group for whatever reason, give it a shot. Look for a local running group and join them for a run just to try it out. I'm glad I did, and I wish I would have joined the crowd earlier.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.