Like most New-Year’s-Lovin’-People I enjoy creating resolutions every January. And yes, every year I resolve to get in better shape, even if it means I have to exercise. To add a little extra motivation to this goal last year, I decided to run a half marathon before I turned the big “three oh” in September. My objective wasn’t to win the marathon, mind you, or even finish in a certain time, just to run. But here’s the problem—even though I know it’s great exercise, I don’t really like to run. And I don’t enjoy running outside when it’s really cold. Or really hot. Or dark. Or alone. I struggle pushing a double jogger stroller (those things are unwieldy). I don’t have a treadmill. And it’s impossible for me to find the time to run in the middle of the day with two little kids, work obligations, etc.
So how in the world do you train with roadblocks like that? I found the answer one fruitful day while talking to one of my neighbors—you join a running group. It was lucky happenstance that my neighbor told me she was training for a half marathon too. At first I didn’t think much of it. But later when I was wondering how in the world I could train for this thing, I remembered that she was training too. I sent her an email asking when and how she finds the time to run, and she told me that a group of girlfriends run together twice a week at six in the morning before their kids wake up and their husbands leave for work.
This running-group saved me. It pushed me to wake up early in the morning because people were counting on me. It gave me group support since I don’t have the drive to push myself on a long run alone and I didn’t even mind the cold when there’s lovely conversation happening for 5 miles.
I was lucky enough to fall into an existing running group. It started with two friends who decided to go running together. From there, a sister joined when she moved to town. Then a neighbor said how she loved to run, so she joined to. Every once in a while other people will join in for a day or two from the neighborhood.
The best way to start one of these groups is to talk to people in your neighborhood who you know enjoy running. Or ask around at your next community gathering. Ask a friend or neighbor if they know anyone that runs. You’d be surprised at how many people would love to join. Establish a set time and place to meet. Make sure you have cell phone numbers and implement a system of texting to let others know if you’ll be there so you know when you need to wait for someone or when they aren’t coming.
The best part about running with a group like this is that it makes the arduous chore of running much easier. We talk about our families, current events such as the election, or less important topics like the Dancing with the Stars finale. We talk about parenting ideas and activities to do with the kids, vacations, school, and life. It is the easiest form of exercise for me to do because I look so forward to talking with these women and being in their company.