“Oh yeah, I won’t run with X group because I know they will leave me.” -Anonymous
I’ve been running now for a couple of years. I had never actually done a “group run” until I was out in Park City. Sure, I had done runs where I met a couple of friends, races, or fat asses. Group runs intimidate me. Everyone is always super fast and then there’s me, #teamcaboose. Even now as I have logged many many miles on trails, some of which were in some extremely remote parts of this country, I am always reluctant to run with a group because I am slow.
I know that there are certain groups that I just can’t run with. Why? We all show up and then the rabbits take off down the trail leaving everyone else behind. No one waits at intersections. You are on your own. Sure, I bring maps, but most of the time we are linking trails together and it’s incredibly easy to miss turns. I also know I’m not alone in my fears. I’ve spoken to multiple people across several different groups who have said, “Oh I won’t run with (X) group because I know they will leave me.” As I have mentioned before that is not a way to be inclusive.
Today I wanted to try running some place new and I saw that a local group was doing exactly the number of miles that I needed to do. The good news is that if I got left in the dust (and got lost) there was always uber to get me back to my car. As I pulled up my stomach was full of knots. The anxiety of new trails, new people, and my slowness was not a great way to start a run. I recognized one of the girls faces from her social media posts and introduced myself. I apologized before we even started running and said I was slow but that I would try to keep up as best as I could. They all said, “This is a no drop run you will be fine.”
As we headed down the trail I was turning my legs over as fast as I could to keep them in sight. When I got to the first intersection I saw that they had slowed down enough for me to keep them in sight and see which way to go. This continued for the entire run. Someone would either be waiting for me at an intersection or would slow down enough for me to see them. THIS is how you run a group run. This is how you make people feel included. Every time I caught up with them I apologized for being slow. “Don’t worry about it.” I still felt bad and felt the need to apologize, but I’m incredibly grateful for their generosity.
My favorite part of the run was around mile 7 or so as I was climbing a hill there was an older gentlemen walking up the hill. As I started power hiking he said in a thick accent, “You and do it!” At that moment I needed to hear that. Thank you Universe for putting him there.
We got to the final intersection and one of the girls wanted to tack on some extra miles. She said, “Just go straight there and you’ll pop out where we started maybe half a mile up up the trail.” Got it! They then took off down a different trail. I got to the car and stopped my watch. It synched with my phone and I looked at the per mile times. HOLY F*%K no wonder why my lungs wanted to explode. A 12:05 average per mile pace. That is a 2 minute improvement (or more) over my normal long run pace.
It took a couple of hours for my lungs to recover and the list of body parts that don’t hurt is probably shorter than the ones that do hurt. All the said, though, these guys were amazing to run with. They were kind, generous, but most importantly they were inclusive. I truly wish that more people would be like this. So thanks guys you were great. I promise I will try to do better next time.