So from my early days of running I have pretty much run and trained alone. Early on in my running adventure I thought I wanted a running partner. The truth is, I wanted a running partner for selfish reasons………. I needed someone to pace off of. I could not control my pace worth a crap and was always going out way to fast, so my thought path was to find someone that I could run with that would worry about the pacing for me.
So I signed up for a few ‘Meet-up’ groups in my area with all intentions of going to a few, but my introverted self came out and I never went. I even started my own Meet-up group for my local area and did get a decent amount of folks to sign up and even set-up a few scheduled runs. The run days came and with 3-4 folks saying they were going to ‘Meet-up’, I was the only one that showed up ☹. So that did not work out…..
As I got into the ultra/trail scene, I ran a few events and like everyone says and knows, I quickly made friends with other runners on the course and by the end of the event we would make plans to get together for some fun runs. Unfortunately for me, I lived about an hr away from most of the folks I was meeting.
I do need to clarify here, as I said earlier I am an introvert and also feel very socially off ward in many cases when I am in a social atmosphere. I also don’t do well where there is a large group. I very much dislike crowds. This is one of the reasons I had a drinking problem. When I use to drink my social walls would come tumbling down and I was very interactive and somewhat of a socialite. Funny thing, crowds at races don’t bother me, I am not sure why….. maybe it is because I can keep to myself and not feel out of place? When it comes to my professional career or coaching, I am fine with crowds if I am in a leading type role. I do horrible at cocktail parties; I’m the guy in the corner trying not to make eye contact.
After a few years of running I soon got the idea of using my running to help others and through that I would be able to meet and find running partners while doing this. In a story for another post, I came across Back on My Feet and it appeared to be a great match. The premise of this group was that they use running to help folks that have experienced homelessness and are in shelters to get back to something stable. Running on a regular basis provides stability that only runners understand and the residents (shelter folks) soon learn after joining the team and sticking with it. Even better, the team I joined was with a shelter that was more of a halfway house and a lot of the men we were running with had substance abuse in their past and I could easily relate, again a story for another post. BoMF worked great as a place to meet other runners and also be able to get together for some weekly runs up to 4 miles. I enjoyed my early morning runs and looked forward to them and those who would show up. The only thing I was not getting out of these running partners was someone who was a regular and another runner that would run the longer runs with me. With my recent move to OH, I have left my BoMF team back in Philly.
So when you can’t find another human to be a longtime running partner, you can turn to the furry type. We got Stella just over 5 years ago and it was not long after we got her we knew she was going to be a runner. Stella is an Australian Heeler and if you know anything about that type of dog you know they want a job and it has to involve running. Heelers got their name from the fact that they are herding dogs and the way they herd is to run behind the animals they are herding and nipping at their heels. If you don’t know this, you may think they are being aggressive when they aren’t. Stella started her running career by running 3-5 mile runs with me on a leash and it soon became apparent that I had to get a waistband leash. Stella can hold a good pace, but one drawback is she tends to pull you along and over a long run it wears on you. Probably one of the best things about Stella is she is in it for the long run and has done up to 20+ mile runs with me. Then the question of ‘how much is too much’ comes into play…. Stella won’t stop, so I have to keep an eye on her. So what is better than one running dog? 2 running dogs! After Stella was a few years old, we got her brother Auggie, another Aussie Heeler. Auggie is a much more laidback dog, a lot more like the Australian culture, but he also loves to run. It is a lot gentler of a runner and he does have a limit. He is good for up to about 10 miles. Auggie also does much better on trails as he seems to care more about me, where Stella is all about getting it done. I find 2 drawbacks to running with the dogs, they don’t really help with setting the pace and in hot weather you have to be really careful not to overdo it.
So where do I stand on a running partner? I still have not found that ‘running partner(s)’ I started out searching for. Over lots of miles and using heart rate training I have learned to pace myself. I am not sure I want a running partner….. but, on the other hand it would be nice to have someone I could just meet-up with from time to time for a nice relaxing run and chat about life. I admit, I do not live or have a mainstream lifestyle or views, so whoever(s) that runner is will not be “normal”. I enjoy running alone, it is my thinking time. I normally do listen to podcasts while running, but most times I find myself zoning out the podcast and thinking about major topics for myself or work. I have a common saying around the office ‘let me run on it’ and I do.
So running partner or not, where do you stand?