If you are new to running you will find that it is often difficult to drag yourself out of bed, struggle into running clothes, shove down a bit of carbs and protein and trudge out the door. Then you are left standing there wondering why you got out of bed when it is already hot and humid at 6:00 in the morning. It takes even more effort to start moving your legs as you meander down the street contemplating about how fast you should go. As you round the corner, you eye the end of the street and suggest to yourself that it is a great place to turnaround and head back. However, you manage to convince yourself otherwise and remind yourself that your goal for the morning was 3 miles. At mile 1 you reconsider the 3 miles and make the final decision to turnaround. You see your cozy home in the distance as you reach mile 2. As you walk up the driveway and enter the air-conditioned environment you are relieved, yet disappointed. You gave up too soon and didn’t reach your goal. How will you ever finish a half marathon?
All beginning runners have experienced this situation. As with any task, activity or sport, it takes time and committment to do it better. Not only that, it takes the “want.” You have to want to do it. I know it sounds funny… I mean, who really wants to power through 3 grueling miles? I guess it is a different kind of “want” that really implies something that we know is hard to get, but feel like we “want” to work through the challenge to reap the rewards.
You do the right thing by signing up for that half marathon and then moments later you wonder what you were thinking. How will you bring yourself to wake up early enough to beat the heat? How will you be able to function after expending all your energy? How will you keep yourself from getting bored on a long run? At that point it all just seems crazy. Yet, you try it out. You run a few times (or at least attempt to run) and then you tell yourself that it isn’t working. You get mad at yourself for spending money to register for a half-marathon, but that isn’t enough to keep you in the game. You just quit.
Is that it? Is that all you have? Some of us just need a little external motivation. Yeah, it is hard to start running on your own. You feel alone out there on the pavement and think that no one else understands how you feel about your attempts to gain confidence in running. Little do you know that the person you pass along the way is feeling the same way. Well, they looked like they weren’t struggling to put one foot in the other, but they were. It looked like they weren’t finding it difficult to breathe, but they were. It looked like they could go on running for hours, but all they really wanted to do was run straight home.
Running takes committment and sometimes we find it easier if we hold each other accountable for making it work. A group of people with the same goals in mind can work together to carry you through the rough spots and cheer you on during the victories. Yet, the group is another kind of committment. If you want to benefit from the group, then you must join the group. That means becoming a part of the group and showing others that you are dedicated to the group. You are an individual, but the group acts like a unit. You are there to be supported, but you also have a job to be the supporter. With the group, you will make it to the finish. We can’t be so sure if you choose the other path that is bare and isolated. It is possible, but that takes a different kind of dedication. And why not make lifelong running buddies? You don’t have to do it alone.