My Saturday had started pretty early with two volunteering jobs, then taking my son to the basketball game. After I dropped him off at his dad’s for the weekend late that night, I was thinking of my long run for the next day. I got home and did not prepare my running gear and headed straight upstairs to bed. I checked my Twitter to see what was up and ended up following Fukuoka Marathon and was so exhausted that I did not set the alarm. I was thinking of staying in bed in the morning.
Sunday morning rolled around too fast and I was up at 6:30. I debated only for a few minutes to stay under the warm covers or to get ready to head out. As I’m recovering from a hamstring injury, I have been taking it easy for the past month doing more yoga, strength training, and short runs. Today’s long run was important to check my body and see how I’m coming along. Since I was not prepared, I was running around trying to find my stuff and of course ended up leaving my Garmin watch behind! (Tip: always prepare the night before).
Although I have been running for a few years on my own, I do realize how greatly I can benefit from running with a group. I learned that from my last experience when I was preparing for my first half marathon. I drove to the Running Room. I introduced myself to the trainers, letting them know it was my first time joining them and that I was recovering from an injury. I chose to run the shortest distance of 11K for my long run. I only started feeling some discomfort on my left glutes after 9K. But overall, a great 1st long run after a month.
Our group was pretty awesome. We had Dan and Marisa the father –daughter team, Stephan the “Iron Man” , Devin, Angie, … and me. The group was open, warm, and welcoming. We all chatted and at the end of our run headed to Williams for coffee. It was nice to sit around the table and learn more about each other. I was glad I had decided to go for my long run and I was fortunate to have come across this group of people; each a beautiful human being and willing to share a piece of themselves.
Running it is not just about numbers, paces, splits, and kilometers or the numerous health benefits from it. It is true that we motivate each other, we learn about the sport of running through sharing information, we pick up new techniques, but something else happens that is not really evident to the outside world.
At a deeper level, we start having meaningful growth and with it comes the wisdom of how we are all interconnected and how our actions or non actions can have an effect on all of us. Through my new friendships today, I realized that when we are honest about our feelings and intentions and share openly without censoring ourselves, others reciprocate, and the relationships become more meaningful.
I learned about a young boy named Adrian who started his battle with cancer at age 10 and lost his fight at age 21. He was a son to Dan and a brother to Marisa. They are a father-daughter team that runs every charity race to raise funds for cancer research. I hugged them and wanted to bawl my eyes out but I restrained myself only to cry several times at home thinking that I have a 9 year old and what if that was me? But you could see how these two people were full of life and had nothing else to offer but warmth, kindness, and openness.
Through her voice filled with trust and appreciation for her husband’s love and support, Angie shared how she can’t have kids and that she is grateful for the support of her partner. We hugged a bit longer to tell each other we are safe sharing our stories and it’s not just about running.
At one point, our instructor Karen, who has a very warm and welcoming personality, started running alongside me and we chatted about a lot of things. I learned that she’s been running for a long time and recently had run a half marathon and a full marathon. She shared how she is going through a difficult divorce and the she has used the services of the London Abused Women Centre when she needed their help and they were there for her. I reassured her that she will get through these turbulent times and if she needs support that I’d be there for her. At this point, Dan, who was running a bit ahead of us turned around with a big smile and said “Me too”. We actually stopped for a short group hug. I admire people like Karen who have experienced setbacks and obstacles but are able to keep their head high and look forward to the future, wearing a big smile and giving warmth and love to those around them.
Running in a group provides ground for healing through sharing and support. We are runners with a purpose. Whether it’s overcoming grief, fighting depression, fighting cancer, fighting disappointments, or setbacks. We run not only to stay healthy mentally and physically but also try to defeat something that has tried to cast a shadow on our lives.
I still cherish running by myself. In my last blog, I talked about how running has helped me with my depression. Mother Earth is my sanctuary and running allows me freedom to explore my soul and nature at the same time. I hear my own internal voice and I hear nature talking back to me.
Regardless of whether I’m running with a group or by myself, when someone passes me by I wonder if he or she is a runner with a specific purpose.