Running Without A Purpose: The Power Of Positive Peer Pressure
I am a runner. While it took me a few years to agree with that statement, there’s no denying it's true. There’s nothing like lacing up the tennis shoes, getting out in the fresh air, and logging some miles. It’s a way to clear your mind, focus on breathing, and let the world almost melt away.
In December of 2019, I applied to run the Chicago marathon, the DC Rock n Roll half marathon, and the B3 series in Baltimore. 2020 was going to be my year of personal records (PRs) and I was ready for the challenge. To help achieve my goals, I am part of the Charm City Run training group. They are a group of dedicated runners that meet twice a week to train with a coach. It is the best form of positive peer pressure.
Well, then March hit. The first two of my races were immediately canceled. My running group could no longer meet. Keeping up a schedule of running became increasingly difficult as more races were canceled or went virtual. The idea of running a virtual half marathon though was not something that appealed to me. While I did run a few 5ks and 10ks, my motivation quickly dwindled.
In June, as pools weren’t opening, school was over with little else to do, and there was much uncertainty in the world, I got the best news possible at that point.
My running coach sent out an email with a subject line that simply said “running isn’t canceled.” She went on to explain that with many precautions in place, our group could begin meeting again. At this point, fall marathons were still on and it gave me a new sense of determination for the Chicago Marathon in October.
But as things went, September rolled around and fall marathons were canceled. What do you do when you’ve been training for over 10 weeks and you suddenly no longer have a goal? As Dory said, you just keep swimming, or in this case, running. My coach didn’t want our efforts to go to waste, so she put together a date for about 15 of us to meet and run our marathon on our own. For a few weeks I went back and forth on whether or not to actually run the distance, but my coach talked me into it.
This was the most challenging athletic experience I’ve had. You don’t realize the importance of the support from a cheering crowd until you’re running without one. At mile 13, a good friend joined me to push me through the second half. At mile 22, I had the BEST tasting orange slice of my life. And at mile 25, my running coach showed up and made sure I finished strong.
If not for my running group, I never would have PRed on an independent marathon, let alone even run one. You really are capable of anything you put your mind to, but it doesn't hurt to have a little help along the way.