Running Friends: How to Become a Better Runner in 30 Days Series

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#28 Running Friends


The Sweetness of Running Friendships


”I wish I could run, but I get bored.” exclaimed a woman in the Y locker room. My friend and I turn to hear her thoughts about running. She went on to list all her family members that run and enjoy it. Wanting to experience the same joy as they do, she was in a state of wishing. I replied with, “You need to run with others.”

It has been two long weeks of running on my local YMCA’s treadmills and yes it can get boring very quickly when alone. Another running friend texted me this morning when she had to run without our group of runners, “It’s boring now running without you!” I totally agree. Once you have running friends, it can be difficult to run alone.

I certainly had my fill of running alone after moving to Minnesota from New York in 2017. In NY, I had someone to run with almost every day of the week, possibly several times a day. However, in MN, run after run was alone.

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At first, I was diligent and out at 6 am every morning as the lonely runner. Figuring I would find runners out on the roads, as plentiful as in NY. But I decided no one ran in my town, they all drove into the Twin Cities and worked, leaving no time for running through our small town. Once there was a 6 am morning running group of three men that I made a few mornings a bit sweeter. But I had to change my running time due to not enough sunlight exposer in order to keep winter depression at bay. Next, a chance encounter united me with a new dear friend. Our friendship grew as we ran together at least once a week: rain, snow, or heat couldn't get in our way. All this time, anyone that I have heard is a runner, I boldly and quickly set up a running meeting. Some have not been the right fit and others have been awesome! Each runner has a unique friendship story, all valuable.

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I went through the stage of participating in races alone. The pain of a disappointing race couldn’t be masked with friendly conversation. When there were good races there was no one to share the joy with. And so this fall, I vowed to not run another race alone. It just was not worth it, however well my race turned out, to not share the joy with another runner friend.

Running friends are more than someone to have small talk with as you cover the miles. They are sounding boards, sympathizers, cheerleaders, comedians, and wise counselors. They have shared my journey through life. Each run recounting recent news or detailing future plans with each other. We have chatted about the simple things in life and dig deep, searching to solve the world’s problems. Those miles together never forgotten.

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I swam on my high school swim team. I wasn’t all that great at it, but do have some natural ability. However, it did not become my favorite sport because it didn’t include enough time talking with others. Hence why running has fit my personality so much better, with plenty of opportunities to talk together. I find it fascinating to learn about others and hear about their thoughts and lives. Running gives me a chance for more friendship time.

So how do you find new running friends? Well when I moved to MN, I checked out Meet Up running groups, joined local running Facebook groups, talked with runners that finished near me at the end of races, asked runners if they knew other runners that lived in my town, and was flexible with when and where I could run and what pace I could run in order to have more opportunities to run with others. Season by season my running friendship group has grown. Currently we are brainstorming a name for our running group. So far Purple Pandas got knocked out by Northwest Distance Club or Woodlands Distance Club.

Whether you have many running friends or none, I hope you look for a new running friend this month. Take the time to be a friend.

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And so back to the story of the woman at the Y, I ended with, “Next time you see me at the Y or outdoors, come next to me and we can run together.” I hope to see her soon!

This 30-day series is a quest for me as a writer, coach, and runner. I promise to write about running for 30 days in a row. In doing so I intend to gain in knowledge and expression of running and daily life. My hope is that we all grow together.

Shelly Binsfeld

Running Coach in Minnesota

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