It’s amazing to me how far you can come as a runner in just a few months. This is my fourth time going through a marathon training cycle, but the first one I’ve had a group for my long runs. Joining Fleet Feet’s Boston 365 program was the best decision I’ve made this year.
I’ve always had running buddies. My friend Lex got me into running when we got to college and I started out doing all my runs with her. She got me through my first 20 miler and inspired me to run my first marathon. I couldn’t have done it without her and it made me realize how much a support system helps.
The last couple marathon training cycles I trained alone for a majority of the time. I’m used to it. I usually raced alone and I like my own company. I still do. But when I moved to Chicago last February I wanted to meet some new people and find some running buddies, so I joined Fleet Feet Racing Team.
I’ve been with the team on Wednesday nights doing speed workouts for over a year now and I can’t say enough how much it has helped with my overall speed. And I met girls and formed friendships that were just so much fun. Speed workouts are wayyy less fun alone.
I heard about the Boston 365 group and was intrigued because I wanted to test out training for a marathon in the winter. Arielle (who I met through racing team) and I had one glass of wine when we met up in December and decided to both sign up for the Nashville Marathon and train with the Boston group. And we’re glad we did.
I didn’t know what we’d find with the group, but here’s what I did:
Right off the bat everyone I met was inspiring. Everyone has a past, a story, a goal for the future. Whether it was running related or not, I felt myself wanting to chase new goals just from meeting new people.
You know when you meet a group of people that just get you? They too know how hard it is to go out on a Friday night and pretend you’re having so much fun when all you’re thinking about is your 6 AM alarm and how you should be at home drinking water. We joke about it, but it honestly helps so much to have people that understand you and have the same problems.
Some days you just don’t feel like running, but when you have a constant group text going about who is running when (and how far), you find yourself wanting to get out the door. Having running buddies to hang out with while getting the miles in makes such a difference.
The stories shared during our runs are priceless. I find myself cracking up every week. Or when we’re done running and attempting to change and function like real adults but just can’t get it together. These women are funny and it makes all this training that much more fun.
I didn’t have as high of hopes going into this as I should have. I had no idea I could run 20 miles at 8:06 average pace on crazy hills. I didn’t know my race pace would really become 7:50-8:00 average. But good things are happening. I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard without this group. And the fact that we are all this fast and are chasing down Boston has given me the confidence I needed. We can do this.
You bond when you spend 5 hours together every Saturday, running hills, sharing problems, giving advice. There’s something great about having uninterrupted time. I’ve called it “our Barrigton world.” We leave the real world for a bit to do what we love. Nothing beats it. Strangers have turned into friends. Friends who support me and encourage a weekly brunch habit. What more could I want??
I know this training cycle isn’t even over yet, but I already know it has been my best one and I have a really good feeling about this marathon. I’ve never run an entire marathon with anyone by my side, let alone women I’ve actually trained for months with. I’m confident in all of us and really think we can stick together and have fun while running our goal pace. Fingers crossed.
So, if you’re thinking about joining a running group, I say go for it. Get out of your comfort zone. Make some friends. Push your training. I hope you’re as lucky as I am and find a group that offers you so much more than just people to run next to on Saturday mornings. I hope you find inspiration, understanding, motivation, laughter, confidence, and friendship.
And to my new found badass friends, thank you.