Running and social connections

16 May

I tend to be a loner when I run.  I love the sense of freedom that comes with being out on the road, just me and the music that is playing in my ears.  I love the feeling of being at one with the world around me, of having no walls or barriers.  And I love being alone, especially during my long runs.  It’s not that I’m antisocial – far from it – but I spend so much time around other people.  I have a very hands-on parenting style: being with my family involves a great deal of physical contact – hugging, playing, chasing and catching – all of which I could not live without.  It does mean, though, that I savour my long Sunday runs, which allow me to spend time with myself.  I always feel refreshed when I get back, and ready for another round of being wrestled to the ground simultaneously by both of my boys.

And so it has been something of a surprise to me to discover that I do actually enjoy the occasional run in the company of other people.  My first inkling of this was when my friend Fran came to visit from B.C. for a few days.  Fran has recently been bitten by the running bug, and when she was here we went running together a couple of times, and even went to a race together.  When she returned to B.C. I missed her company on my short runs, while still being glad of my independence and sense of freedom on the long runs.

After last year’s half-marathon, my first for which I raised funds for the Geneva Centre for Autism, I was invited to join the Geneva Centre’s committee organizing efforts for the 2010 autism run.  During the course of committee meetings and informal email threads, I have gotten to know a few of the people who work at the Geneva Centre, including the lady who is coordinating the whole thing.  After I was featured in a Globe & Mail article about the connection between running and philanthropy, the Geneva Centre asked me to write a brief message about my running for autism, for inclusion in the weekly parent newsletter.

And last week, I was an inaugural member of an informal running group that has started up, comprised mostly of Geneva Centre staff.  After work on Thursday, I traveled the one subway stop from my office to the Geneva Centre and met up with the other four members of the group.  Wearing our red Geneva Centre T-shirts, we set off for a half-hour or so of walking/running.  The experience level of the group varied widely, ranging from one lady who had never run in her life before to me, with my average of 40-50km per week.  By any standards, we were a somewhat motley crew, but we had loads of fun.  I enjoyed the company of each person, and I am really looking forward to our planned weekly runs together.

Well, who knew?  I actually enjoy being with other people when I run.  I don’t honestly see myself ever being able to give up my lone Sunday long runs.  I value that time for myself too much.  But I am discovering that the shorter weekday runs can be very fun, social occasions.

As with so many other aspects of running, I guess it’s a question of balance.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: