Programming note: I was telling a story up in Washington to someone who did not know my friend Sean H down here in California. When I talked about "Sean", he thought I was talking about myself in the third person. When I refer to "Sean" here in the blog, I am talking about my friend Sean H. I am not speaking in the third person. I hate when people do that.
It helps to have a running buddy. Even if they aren't running there with you, they are still part of your support system. While I was training for my second marathon, I was training alongside three other friends who were preparing to run their first. And since this was my first pass through a full marathon training program myself, we were all breaking new ground together.
We ran at different paces, but during the 16 week ramp up we still met every couple of weeks to do our training runs. We weren't necessarily running next to each other, but we were still more or less running together. We'd meet before and after to talk about how training was going, as well as catching up on everything else. When we stood together at the start line of the 2007 San Diego Marathon, we were truly a running group. We ran the first mile together before splitting off to run our own race. It was really a great experience.
Ever since that race, I haven't really gone through a training calendar with anyone. I have certainly joined friends at races, but I haven't had as much of a connection during the build up. I have mostly trained alone, and when we show up together at the start line, there is less of a sense of a shared journey.
This time it is a little different. Sean and I are both training for an October marathon. We are not running the same marathon, but since they are only two weeks apart, our training schedules are roughly aligned.
But we are actually going about it in two different ways. I described my plan in a previous post. Sean's plan was to run every day this month to develop a base, before starting in on higher speed and mileage. His July runs were not necessarily fast each day, but every day he would put in at least three miles. He would ramp things up for a long run each weekend, but July was mostly about making running an unquestionable routine, rather than a chore. It sounds like a great idea, but I think I will wait to try it out when I am not training for something specific.
Now that Sean and I are working together most days, we share our training stories after almost every run. Anytime I am tempted to postpone a training run, I remember that I have to "report" to Sean. It keeps me honest, and in waiting to hear how his training is going, it keeps me interested on another level. It is good to have a running buddy again. And I can't wait to see how our different methods pan out in October.
And of course having a buddy helps in other journeys as well. I have a friend that has been using Weight Watchers for a few months (quite successfully I might add). She has a friend who has been through the program who has been of great help. At the beginning, they were talking on the phone daily, discussing points, meal plans, etc. I think having someone who understood exactly what she was going through helped tremendously to get through the first week or two.
So many of our struggles for improvement end up being all too solitary. It helps to have a buddy. Find one if you can.