Thursday, January 3, 2013

Friends don't let friends push the pace

Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

"Easy" is relative
Yesterday I ran into a colleague whom I hadn't seen in a while. She told me she was running again after taking a long break. About a year ago she'd gone from walker to runner and, by April, she was running about 15 miles a week. We last touched base in early summer when she planned to run in her first 5K. My friend said that, since that time, her discipline had really slipped. By September, she'd stopped running altogether. The New Year prompted her to restart her running routine, beginning with a three mile run on New Year's Day.

I asked her why she had stopped after making so much progress and she told me she had felt too much pressure to run fast. Part of her interest in running came from the social interaction with her friends who also ran. Their easy pace required her to run a lot harder. She struggled to keep up and couldn't really participate in their conversations. She ran her 5K and decided that running was no longer enjoyable, so she went back to walking for fitness.

This experience did not surprise me. My early-'90's attempt to become a runner was thwarted by similar conditions. My only running partner at the time had run track and cross country in school and I found it difficult to keep up with her when we ran. I figured that was what running was all about - you push yourself hard and eventually you'll like it. Or you'll quit.

After many years, I returned to running on my own terms and set realistic performance expectations. I was amazed to see that running can actually be fun if you find a pace that works for you. My friend says she learned her lesson and will not sacrifice her running experience for the sake of social inclusion. I told her that this doesn't mean she has to give up running with friends. If she suggests it, I'm sure they will be happy to run with her at a relaxed pace that works for everyone.

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