Thoughts from the Road: Finding Strength in Numbers
Fall has always been my favorite time of year, and no matter how old I get I still classify it as “cross country” season. Cross country season has me reminiscing on collegiate memories, friends and experiences. Running may be highly individual, but in cross country season especially, the feeling of belonging and being part of something gave the sport so much more meaning. Nothing beats the feeling of the final moments of preparation with a team leading up to championship season. It’s a feeling that I find myself craving as a post collegiate athlete. As we prepare for some fall goal races, I can’t help but reflect on what that looks like today as a post-collegiate running adult. As adults, we may not always get the opportunity to stand on a starting line side-by-side, in matching uniforms, racing under one name with a common goal. However, I believe the feeling can be the same if you find yourself the right community.
I don’t know if I can perfectly illustrate or do justice to that final preparation feeling. I think of it as the final weeks of October, with the sun setting early, silent warm ups with a large group of girls, and tingly nerves from the feeling of slightly more rested legs ready to run fast for final workouts. I remember it as us nailing our final workout because we were fit, ready and hungry for competition. I reminisce about cool downs of laughter, excitement, and anticipation of the upcoming race. The feeling was complete with dreaming together the possibilities of what the competition would hold, the bonding over what WE were going to accomplish, and the outspoken but sometimes silent dreams of what we hoped for as individuals. Nothing compares to that feeling. The feeling of belonging, being inspired by others to not only achieve your goal but to work towards the goal of the collective, and the feeling of being part of something special!
Unfortunately, running later in life doesn’t always look quite as glamorous and whimsical. In fact, sometimes we make it a bit lonely. Work schedules and life is just harder to balance. We isolate ourselves because our training is “me time” or we view dedication the same as self-motivation. I believe it is important to learn to train on our own, because no one is going to run your legs or your brain on race day. However, I think we miss out on a valuable part of human nature when we prepare in isolation. We crave belonging, being a part of a team or even just relationships. We often draw from the experiences of others and we gain inspiration from seeing someone who is doing this day-in and day-out accomplish their goals. Sometimes we even gain confidence from someone “ordinary” do something extraordinary, and our eyes are opened to a new world of possibilities with our own running. When you find a group of people to prepare with, their accomplishments feel like personal victories, not because you did anything for them, but because you took part in the journey with them. The bottom line is, having a team or a community to be part of can really enhance the value of your running journey.
This past weekend I was running with a group who I would consider my “post collegiate” teammates. Though we are all preparing for separate events, ranging from the Chicago Marathon to the 30A Half Marathon to the Army 10 Miler, I believe that final preparation feeling was definitely there. Chatter of race preparations, nerves, and talk of post-race celebrations, that feeling of buzzing excitement and firing legs was definitely there. A group that has been enduring the hot Alabama summer together in anticipation of these initial fall races, was finally feeling like the work was enough. The “Hay is in the Barn” and we did the long portions of it together.
Do you have a team?
I encourage you to find that group that makes you want to cheer for their accomplishments as much as your own. A group that supports you and your running goals, and a group that wants to help you be the best that you currently can be. If you have that, count your blessings, and if you are searching for that, let us help. RunningLane serves a number of runners in the community of all age and ability levels. We coach an incredible group of people. We put on events with amazing participants. Chances are we can help you get connected to your running community.
Happy Running-Coach Alana