I used to be a solo runner, admittedly shunning any other bodies from my treasured morning outings. But like I mentioned yesterday, after running nearly every morning, year after year after year (repeat that another four times now), you start to crave bigger and better. You start to crave something different. You start to crave, well, something else.
Unfortunately, I’m not a fiend for distance. Runners who look toward the next challenge typically do so with an eye on marathons, ultra-marathons, Spartan Races, mud runs and the like. And I did that once before, adding four half marathons to my belt in a year.
But the real me? I prefer to avoid electrocution on my excursions, and I’m not really one for three-hour training runs. It’s for lots of other runners, sure. It just happens to be unlike myself. And until my body is totally ready for another half marathon (which, to be honest, after that many half marathons and an equal number of overuse injuries, I may never be), I’ll just have to fill my mornings with something else.
1. Running with friends has been the outlet I’ve needed.
After running for so many years — so many days and mornings alone — it’s been admittedly nice to have someone by my side. Not every day, but once a week, or once every couple of weeks. And it’s not always Noah either.
I’ve found that it’s a great opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals who value their time outdoors. And, of course, once you’ve made these friendly connections, the time you spend running provides an awesome canvas for conversation. This is totally unique to other outdoor sports; go with a pal to a boutique class, and you’ll quickly learn how unconventional it is to engage in your own intimate chatter.
2. Forget that you’re even running, and wind up going farther.
These conversations have turned out to be some of the most memorable, in-depth ones I can recall. Something about running tends to tear down barriers and strip down inhibitions, and by the time you’ve covered all your bases, you’ve also covered 6 miles without much effort at all. I’ve left runs with friends in which I’ve actually felt as though I needed to keep going, even if I’d logged more distance than I otherwise would have alone.
3. Build appreciation for the quiet, solo runs.
The me of yesterday would hardly believe that these words are coming out of my mouth (or from my keyboard, I guess), but believe me, there is much to love about running with a group. Ultimately though, especially in the case of runners who enjoy their outings for the ability to think and quiet the mind, these deviations from a running routine actually help to breathe life back into solo excursions. By Monday morning, I was very much ready — in fact, excited — to head out on my own and enjoy a little time by myself.
Monday’s run was just me and my city. I’ll be perfectly honest with you as I always have been before; the run wasn’t great. I was tired, and knew that I wouldn’t be covering my usual 5 miles before heading off to work. I left the house late. My stomach was growling. My body ached from ramping up my pace the day before.
Because I cut the distance, I avoided the temptation of Central Park and instead ran north on 1st to just around the Queensboro Bridge, turning around to make a wide loop back home right after 63rd. Without the lush park scenery to cut the urban harshness of Manhattan, the run felt kind of bleak and bare from the moment I stepped out of my apartment until the moment I walked back through the door. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t particularly great either. Monday was just one of those “glad I ran” type of days. And that was that.