Running is an individual sport no doubt. There is no one to field your pass, no one to sacrifice fly, no chants of “we’re number one!” Many days we pound the pavement alone. Just me, myself and I (or I guess– you, yourself and you?). Though sometimes Brittany, Beyonce and Bon Jovi might tag along for some company. But I think that having a variety, specifically five kinds, of running friends makes this whole journey more interesting, more tolerable (at times) and more beneficial (mind body and spirit!).
Here are the five types of running friends I think we all need in our lives.
1. The Therapist. This is the person who will let you vent about your toddler’s potty habits, your ex-husband’s ability to ruin your day with the mere press of the send button, or your coworkers innate talent to interrupt the four minutes of productive time you managed to carve out of your day. She will listen attentively and offer well timed nods or um hum’s. She will know when to give advice and not be grossed out when your sleeve is used as a kleenex. She lifts some of that weight off your shoulders and you actually float a bit the last mile. Often times, a little grin peeks out of the corner of your mouth on the drive home. Life isn’t so bad after all.
2. The Speed Demon. For me this translates to the fast kids track workout buddies. (I call them kids since they are in their late 20’s, which means they are kids to me.) My best friend also holds court in this category. (Author’s note: I often get asked if I am her, or we are sisters. Hand to God I sometimes say yes. Who doesn’t want to be the fast girl?!?!) They are the ones whose butt you know best, only because you are constantly chasing it. They leave you coughing in a sea of dust like some spandex-clad version of the Road Runner. But when it settles, and you catch your breath, (hold on still panting….) you know they have pushed you past where you think you can go. They set the bar really high, so high you can’t even see it for all the doubting clouds. But when the work is done, the last interval clocked, you realize you got a heck of a lot closer to that bar than you ever thought possible.
3. The Time Traveling Talker. Say what? This is the one you want with you on your long runs. Or the runs when you just need to get the miles in, but there are literally a trillion other things you would rather be doing. Cleaning the toilet comes to mind … Anyway, she is the one who can chat away the miles with a tone that is much the same as a Johnny Cash song, soothing and methodic. She can keep your mind occupied with tales of hiking in Michigan and recipes for granola and frustrating yet funny things her teenage daughters say from the depths of their drama filled universe. Before you know it, double digit miles have passed and you wonder where the time went.
4. The Up for Anything. This is the person who will go slow when you need to go slow. Will run the turkey creek loop because you want to. Will start at 4:30 pm because that fits your schedule. She is the one who is actually serious when she says there is no pressure to be great today and we will run just to stretch our legs. She reminds you, that you ARE a runner because you are running, even if you have to walk a bit here and there. She is always right beside you not complaining and not judging. You are equals because you love to run.
5. The Pace Setter. For me, one guy comes to mind (Oyler if you are out there, cheers!). You say 7:22 pace, he hits it. You say quarters at 87, he goes through the 200 at 43. He has this internal clock that you can set your legs to and probably Big Ben. (Sorry ladies, its almost football season, my mind has but one track). He is the perfect companion for hitting any workout you have on the docket. He takes the hard guess work out of pacing and lets you focus on the turnover and not be a slave to your garmin.
Those are my five friends that work best for me. Which running friends do you count on?