Your pace or mine?

There are many benefits of running or exercising with others.  It’s a great way to build friendships with people who have common interests.  Running with a group can be beneficial to your race performance when you are running with individuals that are faster or the same pace as you.  But, it also can be frustrating if the groups pace is out of your league.

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During my mid 20’s to mid 30’s, I ran just about everyday with a group of ladies that I met through one of the two running clubs in Syracuse.  All of us had a passion for running and were experiencing the triumphs and trials and tribulations of our careers, relationships and running goals.  The weirdest thing about this group was that we all worked in some facet of the healthcare industry.  Our healthcare running group represented one executive from the health insurance industry, a physical therapist, a research guru for Upstate Medical University, a professor for Upstate Medical University and me- a medical practice administrator/consultant.  You probably can guess that our conversations included some heated discussions involving the health care crisis.  Yes, that topic has been around for a long long time.

Everyday between 5:00-5:30am we would all gather outside K’s house in the Syracuse University neighborhood and run at least 8 miles at a pace faster than my current race pace.  Usually Tuesdays was dedicated for speed work which was a double workout with track in the am and tempo run in the pm and the dreaded long run saved for Sundays.   It was a perfect mix of runners with marathon pr’s from 2:45 ish to 3:15ish.  I always felt like our group was a balanced mix of runners all trying to have fun with the goal of improving our finishing times.  We all ran at a comfortable talking pace for our daily workouts and respected each others PR’s and race goals.  However, when it came to speed work and the last two miles of the long run, it was fair game to run your heart out with no regrets or questions asked.

I’m not exactly sure when our group began to dwindle but career obligations, family, kids, moving out of the neighborhood impacted our daily get together.

Slowly but surely our group disintegrated and we were down to 1-3 of us meeting randomly on the weekends for the long run.

Fast forward a few years and I was running with Tim on a regular basis.  Tim was so kind to take up this crazy sport so I wasn’t running by myself in darkness during the middle of our grueling winters.  Trust me, it took us awhile to find our running groove and I must admit that I was not the best running partner.  Often, I would run ahead of him and circle back to him and offer words of encouragement like “c’mon you can do it! your almost finished”.  Please take note that I realized that the zigzagging back and forth is not a nice thing to do to someone who is just starting to run or with a person that is much slower.

Now that I am slowly but surely getting back into somewhat of a regular running schedule, I  have opted to run by myself until I am confident I can keep pace.  First of all, I don’t want to hold back Tim or another runner from their regular training pace schedule. And secondly, I don’t want my competitive side to tack over and run too hard and reinjure myself.

For the time being, it is my pace right now and I can only hope to be your pace (whatever that is) later.

Have you ever ran with someone much slower or faster than you out of pressure or obligation?  Tell me, do you find it difficult or energizing to run with a group? I would enjoy to read your thoughts and comments on this topic.