Running is supposed to be for introverts. You spend hours alone with nothing but your thoughts and the sound of your footprints on the pavement to speak back to you. As an extrovert, this is not the reason I run. Although I like the alone time on occasion, I much prefer to run alongside someone. I'm lucky enough to have multiple running partners; we all have different strengths and are able to push and encourage each other through our various road blocks.
As I was reading Born to Run I came across a quote in the book that summed my thoughts up perfectly. McDougall was talking about Scott Jurek- one of the greatest ultra runners of our day. When Scott began running he was the slowest of his friends and always the last to cross the finish line on his track team. After years of perseverance, he has transformed into an animal- winning the Western States 100 for 7 years in a row. He holds multiple titles and continues to blast the competition in races, but that is not the best thing about him, it's his understanding of the sport:
The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other, he understood, but to run with each other. Scott learned that before he had a choice, back when he was trailing Dusty and the boys through the Minnesota woods. He was no good and had no reason to believe he ever would be, but the joy he got from running was the joy of adding his power to the pack. Other runners try to disassociate from fatigue by blasting iPods or imagining the roar of the crowd in Olympic Stadium, but Scott had a simpler method: it's easy to get outside yourself when you're thinking about someone else." (Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, page 253)
I had a great run with Darcy yesterday morning and it had nothing to do with pace or distance or difficulty- it was because we were able to lose ourselves in conversation. Acting as each others therapist caused us to forget about our run, and before we knew it, our 5 miles was over before it even felt like it was getting started.
I love the power of the pack and the strength that comes from making yourself a part of a greater whole. The quote above is true in running, and in life, that "it's easy to get outside yourself when you're thinking about someone else."