Friday, October 12, 2012

Fast Friends

My running journey began with solo runs, and I still highly appreciate the solitude and quiet of running by myself. I get lost in my thoughts and the miles tick off like clockwork. Give me a good hour and any stress is completely debunk.

Just some of my Sole Sisters!
However, there is great value in running with friends as well. The comraderie and support transforms running into a team sport. Finding fellow runners can be a tough task though... different schedules, varying paces, personalities, etc.  I was fortunate to find a large group of lady runners with the Sole Sisters, a local women's running club here in Peoria, IL.

On Wednesday night, I led the 10 min/mile group during the Sole Sisters run. (Leading simply means that you set the pace and make sure that no one gets left behind.)  My 'Perfect 10' group was so fun this week. I found myself getting caught up in conversations and before I knew it, 3.8 miles was done just like that. The next day several of my Sisters were thanking me for 'pushing' them. Hmmm, I didn't know I was? I sorta forgot about that rally at the end... If you ever run with me, heed the warning - I love to finish strong. I believe in developing the 'finish kick' on every single run.

Anyway, I got to thinking about it more the next day on my beloved solo run. As runners, we tend to classify ourselves by pace, speed, distance, etc. We naturally cluster towards those who run our same pace. We find comfort in knowing that we can 'keep up' before we even start running. We call ourselves "slow," or avoid others with a flippant "You're too fast for me."

I'm here to say...
Step out of your comfort zone!
Embrace your fast friends 
...and {gasp} even RUN with them!

Don't worry about holding them up, slowing them down, or whatever excuse you're thinking in your head right now. The fast fact is this:  If a (faster) runner agrees to run with you, that means they're not concerned about their pace that particular day. They just want to be with you!  So chill, stop apologizing for your pace. We all enjoy runs of different exertion levels. If your fast friend needed a 'training run', they'd either do it solo or run with someone else. Truth.

I'm pretty middle of the pack when it comes to pace. When I started running, a 12-13 min/mile was my average. As the years and miles have ticked away, I've grown faster through consistency and training. Today, I like to keep it in the 9's (10 when I go long). This is by no means "fast"... although just a year ago I thought it was.  How perceptions change...

I have several fast friends who are have taken me under their wing on runs through the years. They dragged me along stayed one step ahead and carried the conversation while I gasped for breath. While it was an easy run for them, it was a working run for me... pushing me to new paces and pain thresholds that I didn't think were possible for me. In the process of those workouts, I became convinced that I could run faster and hold that pace. Shoot, they proved it to me. My fast friends were like unpaid coaches, my own personal rabbits.
Karen royally kicked my butt the day of this photo... and gave me a great boost heading into my first triathlon. I'm so sad she's moving away from us now.  :(

Crystal is the ultimate fast friend.  Always a cheerleader & knows just the right thing to say when you're digging deep to keep up.

Anna is my regular fast friend, who pushes me to the best interval splits ever! She's joining me for the back-half of a 20 miler this weekend. Oh-dear, I just hope to survive...

Whichever 'pace bracket' you land in, know that there is always someone faster or slower than you. By running with friends of different paces, there are a couple opportunities that await you...

  • Run with someone faster... and push yourself beyond your self-imposed ceiling. Unveil your possibilities!
  • Run with someone slower... and take them to new heights. There's great satisfaction in helping someone realize their hidden potential.
  • Of course you can run with someone exactly your same pace (is there such a person?!) and enjoy feeding off one another.

But by all means, whomever you run with... 
RuN HaPpY!!
That's my only rule.

Keep in mind the terms slow/fast are relative to whatever our own pace is. The longer you run, the faster "fast" gets. On a personal note, the word "slow" drives me crazy, so don't use it around me!


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I would love to have friends to run with but I run sllllooow and am always worried about bringing people down. I end up doing much better when I run with friends because they push me. Now I just need to find more friends...

  2. Had it not been for meeting my faster friends and running with them I think I would still lack confidence in my running especially when it comes to running with others. i DO sometimes feel the need to point out my pace if running with someone new though that way if they need to run faster I won't hold them up. I am thankful for the fast friends because it has definitely pushed me to want to run faster.

  3. Thanks for this! My average pace is about 11-12. I got a bunch of my friends to start running and they are all faster than me. I have also do 4-8 5ks per month and you see the same people at most of them so I have met lots of new and SUPER FAST friends. They all offer to run with me but I am scared to death to do it. I like to be in control and also don't want to hold any one back and yes I know they know what kind of run they are going to have when they run with me I can't get past it and just enjoy it with them. I have to get past this!

  4. So true! I have a fast friend who likes to run with me…mostly as a recovery run, I think. We always have a good time. Back when I was faster(ish) I loved running with slower runners and slowing down and just enjoying company and conversation. Great post!

  5. What a great post! I'm bicycling a lot right now and I'm just getting started with it. I'm finding myself apologizing for my speed a lot (I want to do the group rides). This was a good, eye-opening read for me today, thanks!

  6. Friends make me accountable, and most of my running partners HAVE made me faster!

  7. Great post! It drives me crazy when people apologize for their pace and "possibly" slowing me down. Its my business how fast I want to run "today" so tehy shouldn't worry about it. In fact, I like nice slow long runs where we can talk and have a conversation!

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I'm holding people back, I tell them, "feel free to run ahead if you want, I don't mind at all and I won't say this again b/c I already can't breathe".

  8. Running with someone faster is a great way to get faster! I have run with my husband for years and I know that it has improved my running (and our relationship :-)).

  9. Yes- great post! It's intimidating to run with faster people, but a great way to push yourself occasionally. I also always ran alone until the last year or two, when I've started connecting more with local running groups. So glad I finally branched out to link up!

  10. Great topic, Jess! I love all my runner friends, but I'm always concerned about holding some of them up. I will try not to turn them down next time.

  11. This was a fun post to read! So true that when people say they want to run with you, they are not worried about the pace!


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