Group running has never appealed to me. The reasons I love running – finding my own pace, getting “into the zone” and enjoying my music, to name a few – do not mesh with running with someone else, let alone a whole crew. Turns out I was wrong, though. Nearly two months ago, I signed up for a running conditioning class for people training to run a 10K. One of my favorite trainers was offering the once-a-week class through the gym I have at work and I figured, “Why not?” Since my knee has recovered from my half-marathon-induced pain, I’ve been eager to put some miles on. I had also already signed up for two races in September: a 10K and a 5K. This class would be the perfect way to increase my endurance and speed, two factors I’ll need to beat my personal bests (47:something in the 10K and 22:40 in the 5K).
I remember feeling apprehensive before our first class. Would I be able to keep up? Or would I be forced to slow down? Would I like the workout? I liked that first workout very much, and every one that followed. Every week’s class is different and challenging, but whether we run hills, stairs or sprints, I find inspiration from every runner in our group. We all take it at our own pace, but the speed demons definitely push me to be faster; God knows I would never burn up a hill as fast on my own. I manage to get into my own zone, too, and listen to my iPod once we’re on our way. Everything I like about running is still there. If anything, I’ve gained something cool: a strong sense of camaraderie. Now, at the end of class, I feel a different kind of runner’s high – one that is shared. It’s so satisfying.
When our program ends in a couple of weeks, I’ll miss it a lot. It has made me a faster and stronger runner, no doubt. It’s also made me realize how fun it is to run with others. When I run my two races this month, I’ll be pushing myself for me, but also for them. We’ve worked too hard not to.