From Solitary to Social Runner

by Shamala Kandiah Thompson

I like running alone. I am happy to have just my thoughts for company. As a result I haven’t felt a need for running buddies over the years. I don’t even need music. Marrying a fanatical runner didn’t change my running habits. I’d have to be Paula Radcliffe to keep up with Paul (Paula’s 10K is 30:21, one second faster than Paul’s.)

Speed – or the lack of it – is another reason I’ve shied away from running with others. I don’t fancy being the laggard in a group of runners. Nor do I want speedy runners to slow down for me. Not that I don’t like runners. I even enjoy their company. Just not on a run. Or at least not until now.

After years of being a happy, solitary runner I suddenly find myself with regular running mates. People I actually enjoy running with. And it’s added a new, welcome dimension to my running.

My post work running buddy is Robbin, a veteran of 7 marathons, now training for her first ultramarathon in April – the 35-mile Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town. (She has a great blog about it.). She often runs home from mid-town Manhattan to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I get a decent weekday run in by running with her from our office near the UN to Williamsburg Bridge and then heading back to the office. It helps get me out – just at that point in the day when all I feel like doing is heading home to curl up in front of the television.

Robbin running by the East River

My other running buddy joins me in Rockefeller Preserve on Sundays for a long run. (Our favorite running spot in New York – a post on the east coast “Rockies” will come soon ) The miles go by a lot faster when you’re chatting. Kelly took up running only two years ago but she’s enthsiastically embraced it and is gearing up to do a half-marathon later this year. Her next race is the Leatherman Loop in April – a muddy trail run with a river crossing and quarry climb. Rather her than me.

For the first time I’m enjoying being a social runner. There’s plenty of running talk (training schedules, races, injuries, aches and pains, new shoes) but moving in step with someone also allows for great discussions about life, love and world peace.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy the solitary runs. But now I’ve come to find that the combination of running and conversation is hard to beat. Things change. Who knows, I might even one day find myself enjoying a race.

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