I have always felt that running has been both solitary and social. Solitary in that sense that many runners train during the days, weeks and months leading up to races, alone-out there on the roads and trails, putting in the miles in solitude. Whether it is solitary by choice or just circumstance. The social aspects of running bring with it many benefits and rewards. It is a sport that thrives on encouragement, motivation and the celebration of hard training.
Solitary miles can be soul searching and therapeutic. Out there on the roads, trails or track-hearing just the sound of your own breathing and your stride hitting the pavement. This is where you are not just strengthening your body, but your mind as well. Willing yourself, motivating yourself to put in the work, even when no one else is around to push you through the workout. Getting up in the early dark hours or getting out there in the late evening hours, no one but yourself to push and motivate.
It is in these singular/solitary moments, that you remind yourself that there are others out there at this very moment, training and putting in the early morning or late evening runs.
Running is a social sport, in the sense that it brings camaraderie and common goals together through training programs and on race day. Social Media has also made running a social sport, virtual cheers along the way during training and race day. Runners sharing their ups and downs with training and celebrating their accomplishments on various social media outlets. Even in those dark, solitary hours during training-thoughts of other runners motivate you to keep going. Running can can connect people. Running grows friendships among individuals, through training, blogging and racing.
On race day, runners celebrate together. It is a social event of ‘cheers and high fives’ along the course, everyone moving towards the finish line. Out on the course. runners giving each other words of encouragement. The sense of belonging-every runner out there for the same reasons-to be strong, trust their training, and be the best of themselves. We are all out there-feeding off the energy of each other on race day!
Whether you train alone on a regular basis or meet up for regular training runs with a partner/group, running straddles the line of both solitary and social. There are those common threads that connect and motivate us through the training miles and on race day. Miles of sweat, moments of doubt and trusting our training. Knowing that we are all out there giving our best effort and sharing the celebrations of hard training, connects us.