Why running with others can be great #REDBED day 2

Not quite the glorious morning it could have been
Not quite the glorious morning it could have been


I’ve just come back from my Saturday early morning run. Today was a nice gentle 10 mile out and back along the Middlewood Way. The usual Strava print is attached below. Do click follow me on there as well if you wan to see the runs as I do them.

Saturday morning runs have always been a social affair. It’s made up of a mixture of seasoned runners, with more world marathon majors between them than I have fingers & toes to count them on. Most of us train together as Stockport Harriers, however the group is open to all, very friendly and willing to share tips, ideas, banter. To me, this is what running in a group is all about.

Yes, when we turn up for competitions, we’re all focused on the job in hand; this might be to get the best out of ourselves on the day; it equally may be to pace others to help them achieve their goals. But underlying all of that is a desire to support and help each other. And that is such a powerful force!

Billy no mates running

Prior to meeting this group, I only ran alone. This was before I’d joined any running groups and so I didn’t know anything different. When I run, I tend to zone out from all the stuff I’ve left behind. I focus on my breathing, my footsteps and my rhythm. When I’m out running, all of the rest of life’s complications are left behind. The last 5+ years have included plenty of complications, problems, dead ends, decisions and more. So the fact I was alone and focusing on the present moment wasn’t an issue for me.

When I was racing in the past, it was a challenge set my me, for me and whilst there were plenty of others there, it never felt like a group experience for me.

I had previously looked at clubs, but found them to be cliquey and, to be honest unfriendly. In reality, I still do find clubs can be very insular, unfriendly and self-serving. Apart from that, my contact with other groups of people always seemed to end up with me feeling pressured into joining a committee of some description and dealing with the inadequacies, indifference and general idiocy of other people (I’ve got my own to deal with, thanks).

So what changed?

Having been a member of Stockport Harriers for almost a year and still feeling like I didn’t fit in, I changed running group. Suddenly I found myself with people who looked out for each other and made you feel part of the group without fuss. I first met a few of them during a half-marathon and (surprisingly for me) got chatting; the whole group running thing began to make more sense to me. Why? Well one of the group was pacing the others, helping them to achieve something positive. I’ve seen pacers in races before, but it’s generally seemed to be a functional role. Having spoken to a couple of “professional” pacers (by which I mean they regularly act as official pacers in races), my understanding of their role has moved from functional to the fact they want to see others succeed.

What is comes down to is the people themselves, not the club as a body. So actually the group I run with are a mixture of a number of different clubs, but all individuals focusing on doing the best they can and helping each other out along the way. No committees, no politics, no judgment of others.

Long Slow Running – a chance to be social

The nice thing about starting your Saturday long run at 8am is that you’re finished and showered, ready to go with the day about the same time as most other people. Except you’ve got that buzz and glow of a couple of hours-worth of endorphins flowing around the body. And to be able to share it deflects the feeling of ‘WTF am I doing a run in the rain, at 8am on my Saturday morning?’

Long Slow Runs do lend themselves well for company. The pace should be suitable to be able to hold a conversation, so that’s a decent test to ensure you’re not going too quick. LSRs, in many ways are ‘time on legs’ runs, designed to build up the distance endurance rather than raw speed.

The conversation topics covered all bases; From the dry observational stuff like last week’s running club AGM, through to pacing and nutrition, taking in ‘drinking too much the night before today’s LSR’!

It’s a relaxing time, a couple of hours to be spent in the present moment. Taking in the scenery, chewing the fat. It’s good for the body. It’s equally good for the mind. Company is also a great tonic if you’re going through a tough time for whatever reason. Anything that can distract you from obsessing over things you can’t do anything about has to be beneficial.

Today, the group split up after about 3 miles with some going up into Lyme Park, some turning back to do a shorter distance. A couple of us stayed on the MWW as we just wanted a steady 10 miles today. I’m in the hills tomorrow so am saving myself! Although having seen the route the Park group took, I’m eager to get out soon again to try it out! A positive benefit of social media and sport!

Not quite the glorious morning it could have been

Not quite the glorious morning it could have been

#REDBED day 2 round up

I’ve said what I want to cover today, which has stayed within the running theme.

I see the topic of ‘go and join a running club’ come up time and again. I guess my message is broadly to follow this advice, but to base your next move on how you find the people. If it’s not a good fit, that’s not your fault. Group dynamics can be very different even within a single club. So find out who is doing what and go and see if what they’re doing works out better for you. Where the fit is good, everyone benefits as the chances are you’ll be bringing something in the mix which others benefit from. Basically life is too short to stick with something that you know in your gut, isn’t working for you. That logic works for jobs too!

Tomorrow is a fell race and a new course for me, so I’m envisaging that will form some sort of race review. By the time we get into the first proper week of December, the chaos that is daily life will probably seep into my musings.

Until tomorrow, enjoy today!

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