Somehow, back this summer, my three running buddies and I tentatively decided to run a half-marathon. We were all at different stages of training – one of the girls had run at least one halfie a year for about three years; one friend and I hadn’t run that distance in more than two years, and one of the group members had never run a halfie, but it was always a goal of hers.
We decided to start training for a half at the beginning of fall. Since we were accustomed to running about four to five miles at a time, we thought we could easily train during the fall to run a nearby race in mid-November.
However, one by one, my running group had to pull out of the race. Life happens, and running that long of a distance takes a lot of time, effort and energy. That’s why I haven’t run a halfie since 2012. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide, “Hey, I think I’m going to run 13 miles today.” It takes months of training. It took a couple of months for me to even officially commit to running the race. It’s not a decision I made lightly – and it’s not one that the rest of my group made lightly, either. If they were going to race that far, they wanted to be able to train well and train hard for it – and for this particular race, it just wasn’t going to happen.
That’s how I found myself, a month before the race, debating whether to run my first half-marathon without any running partner.
A long run by yourself is lonely. I run on the treadmill to catch up on my TV shows. I run with my group to catch up with my friends. All of us are moms, and all of us are busy once the sun rises, so if we want some girl time, running together in the pre-dawn darkness is our best option. I love catching up with everyone, talking about our families, about our activities and about life.
Running alone outside – you don’t get that.
It’s harder to get up those hills when you don’t have someone else to complain with you. It’s harder to make the neighborhood loop again because you’ve got to get your extra training mileage in before the next week. It’s harder to simply get up and go.
It’s harder – but it’s certainly not impossible.
And maybe you’re someone who actually enjoys running alone. My husband is one of these individuals; he catches up on podcasts during his runs. I used to suggest he find a running group, but he loves being a lone runner. He’s got some great benefits to running alone, too: When he wants to run, he simply laces up his shoes and goes running in our neighborhood. He may sit and drink his coffee, then run or do the opposite one morning. If he sleeps late, he doesn’t feel guilty about leaving his running partners behind. If he wakes up one morning and decides to spontaneously run, he goes for it – which, I suppose, we all can do that last one.
The point is, if you’re a social runner like me, running alone isn’t as bad as it seems.
Also, I get to listen to MY music when I run alone. There will be no Disney music played when I’m running up hills. That’s the music I listen to in the car because my daughter is in love with all things Disney. There will be no classical music played when I’m sprinting my last mile. That’s the music my husband plays while we make dinner.
Give me some Lana del Rey, some Lecrae, some Florence + the Machine: that’s my running jam.
As I continue to train, I’m still with my running group. We run shorter runs together, and when I need to run my long races, I get to spend some girl time with them for a few miles and then continue on by myself.
Additionally, I must say how much I love my little running group. I was planning for my first solo double-digit mileage run, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I figured I could get three or four miles in with my group, and then I’d finish the rest of the long run on my own.
They staggered their runs with me. I ran a bit with one friend, headed back to our start point for a quick water break, and then she left and another friend joined me.
I may be running the half by myself, but I won’t be alone – I’ve got my girls and my family supporting me.
Give a shout out to who supports you during your training and on race day.