THE WONDERFUL COMMUNITY OF RUNNING|
Years ago, when I first became a runner, I gushed over the wonderful community of runners to my schoolchildren. Together, we build a first-grade curriculum built on the running bib numbers sent to us by these runners. In the essay below, children's book author, Brianna Grant, expresses a similar point of view.
- Carol Goodrow
June 26, 2009
Since my first days as a runner, I have marveled at the wonderful community of running. I was surprised during my first 5K when passing runners offered me words of encouragement. Years later, after countless races and group runs, I can confirm that the warmth and camaraderie I felt in that first race wasn't unusual - it is just the nature of the running community.
Running is the icebreaker that has united me to people I otherwise would never have gotten to know. I've run with teachers, high school students, singer/songwriters, my cousins (a good 10 years younger than me!), landscape architects, personal trainers and fellow-moms. I have settled into a steady jog alongside new runners and I have circled my legs around like Scooby Doo's & Shaggy's when they're being chased by a phantom when challenged by more experienced runners. No matter the pace, I treasure the experience and the relationships I build along the way.
It is this positive energy and uplifting spirit of group running that recently reignited my love of the sport. After a few years of running mostly on my own, I had the chance to run with a group of women for a casual 5K to celebrate the memory of a high school friend of mine. I sent out emails to women I knew who ran: moms at my son's preschool, some women I knew from around town. I expected just one or two to run at 7a.m. that Saturday morning, but six turned up to greet the foggy morning with me.
None of us had run together before that morning, and there were new faces for each runner to meet, but everyone was game for whatever the morning held. After a whole-group warm-up walk, we were able to divide into a few pace groups for the run. Everyone had at least one running buddy for conversation, encouragement and laughter. The end result was two women finishing 5K with personal records and the starts of several new friendships. During our post-run stretch when we were all back together, it was unanimous that this positive running experience should become a regular event on Saturday mornings.
Four weeks later, we're still running. I find that the Saturday morning group runs are one of the best parts of my week. They are a time to connect with other women who share my interests and passions, and just knowing that at least one person (or sometimes as many as seven) will be waiting for a run holds me accountable to get MY run in, even when it seems my bed doesn't want to release me.
One morning we were even able to pass along our shared dedication to fitness with the next generation of strong women when a runner brought along her young daughter to bicycle along side us. She was the perfect cheerleader for her mom and even asked at the end when she could run with us. I can't think of a better way to start my weekend.
Brianna K. Grant is a former educator and the author of the award-winning book We Are Girls Who Love to Run. She runs in and around Duvall, WA where she lives with her husband, two children and their dog. You can learn more about her book at balancedsteps.com and follow her blog Girl Who Loves to Run at balancedsteps.blogspot.com.