Marathon training: from friendliness to deep friendships

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Marathon training season starts in a few weeks. This will be officially the first season I won't train with my old running group. 

Although I moved after last year's training season started, I went back for a few key runs. I also became a virtual head coach instead of an in-person coach. I guess I was ahead of my time, considering all of this COVID-19 stuff.

I finished what I started (thank God) and marathon number 6 was a wrap.

I decided to sign up for another marathon this Winter because I thought it would be a good goal to pursue. Before the official training starts, I am working on eliminating extra body weight.

I have run enough to know that the extra weight only impedes my progress. I don't want to be on weight loss mode all my life. I want to reach my goal and proceed to maintenance. I have a great chance to reach my weight loss goal and I will reach it before the end of the year.

Back to running. I'm glad I learned a lot about myself these past 6 marathons. I know how to run with a group and I know how to run alone. 

Both skills are very important. My thing is, I don't want to be stuck. I need to be able to adapt to my surroundings so I can reach my running goals. 

One time, the weather was awful and I ran 17 miles on a treadmill. I don't recommend it but that experience taught me to press on and accomplish my goal.

Running with a group is an acquired skill. The running community is generally friendly. The problem some people run into is turning that friendliness into deep friendships. Some runners remain acquaintances after decades of running together. Others develop deep friendships that last a lifetime. 

I don't think there is a secret to developing deep friendships with people. It all depends on the individual and where they are in life. I will write more about this in a later post. 

As a newcomer to a group, you will notice small groups in existence. Most groups are friendly and they do not mind you running with them. Some groups say they are friendly but they are really closed groups running in public. 

It doesn't take long for me to figure out these dynamics. I often ask myself, "should I try to belong to this group who clearly does not want me to be part of them or do I find another way?" 

That's when my skill of running solo or with a group comes in handy. I've had to do both and I'm okay with both. What I try not to do is to be hurt because a group or a person does not want me to run with them. 

Running doesn't discriminate but runners sometimes do. Reaching my running goals while cultivating a forgiving heart is better than getting frustrated with trying to belong to a closed running group.

I've learned to pray about everything, running included. My prayer is that God will lead me to the right people and vice-versa. When I focus on the vice-versa part of the equation, I feel better.

For example, I noticed a lot of people around me were trying to belong to the running community. I thought about my experiences as a runner and as a minority runner. I decided to be a safe space, an encouraging force to anyone who will receive me. I decided to act on this belief.

I verbalize the following: "I am glad you are here. You belong. You don't have to jump any hoops or do anything special to be part of us. You belong just as you are and we want you to feel you are part of us.  Here is my number if you ever need it."

This statement makes my heart's intentions crystal clear. I also find that instead of waiting for someone to do this for me, I can freely offer it to others.

Focusing on the positive is the best way to live and run.

This training season will be different. I dearly miss the familiarity of my old running group. Still, I will learn more about myself. I will bring all that I am to my upcoming training season.

Most runners I met in the past are great people. I met a lot of welcoming, genuine people. My share of bad experiences does not represent the overwhelming good I receive from the running community.

I am thankful for what was. I look forward to what will be. I am committed to being a force for God's goodness in my local running community. I want to be welcoming, encouraging and I want to see my friends reach their running goals.

Here's to a brand new long-distance running season. My heart is free, my whole being is ready to accomplish another marathon.