I believe in running.
I believe in running in part because at 46 years of age it allows me to be fit and still eat pizza and drink beer occasionally. And because it gives me a sense of strength and accomplishment.
Not counting childhood, I’ve been running since I was in my early 20’s. I don’t remember now, but I probably started running initially to lose those dreaded freshman “10” lbs.
But in the last 4 years running has become a focal point in my life. After recovering from a stubborn bout of pneumonia a few years ago, and slowly building up to running again, I joined the local runners club and ran my first 5K race. The thrill of competing at something physical was exhilarating, and I was hooked. After that, I signed up for a class designed to improve 5K and 10K race times, (it did!) and then for a marathon training class. I had discovered that running was also a highly social sport. I found that I looked forward to those Saturday morning workouts with my running friends as the highlight of my week.
I am now deep into the ritual of scheduling a Saturday morning “long run” with my local running group, the Ranchview Gang. Our gang grew out of a small group of four of us who qualified for the Boston marathon around the same time. The four of us trained together all spring, and ran and finished the marathon together. To our friends tracking us at home, it must have looked as if we were holding hands the whole way!
Our group is now at 22 members and counting. We use distance running in our daily lives to set and achieve goals, to keep us healthy, to reduce stress and to have fun. Training for various marathons each year also gives us an excuse to travel and run in some exciting and beautiful places.
On our Saturday morning training runs, which can vary from 8 to 22 miles at the peak of marathon training, we talk about our jobs, our spouses, running injuries, digestion issues, upcoming races and the breakfast we plan to eat when we finish. (Though we have a rule that you can’t talk about food until the very last mile.) If it’s a particularly long run, say an 18 miler, there is no subject that doesn’t get discussed. … Running naked? Yup. Willingness of spouse at home to accept running spouse leaving them with the kids on a Saturday morning? You betcha.
But the most important thing we offer each other is a combination of support and competition. Our group is a team, and we are each simultaneously coaches and players. We offer training and recovery advice and big doses of empathy and sympathy as needed. We also compete seriously with one another, encouraging each other to run faster, stronger and further. Running has brought a new family into my life. That’s why I believe in the Ranchview Gang.
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