After the Lincoln Marathon this past May, I posted a picture on my Instagram with a picture from each of my marathon finishes to that point.
No, not the pain face that is being sported in all of these. Or my affinity toward wearing blue sunglasses.
It’s the fact that I’m all by myself in all but one of the pictures. And the one that features another runner is at about Mile 3 of the MDI Marathon.
Now, I will admit that if you zoomed out the photo, you would see more people in the Twin Cities (bottom left) picture. But take a wider look at the others and you’ll just see trees and pavement.
I have almost an uncanny ability to find myself alone in most races, and almost all marathons. Twin Cities (due to size) and MDI (running with a friend) being the two exceptions. But even in those two, I found some solo miles.
It’s something that I’m finally mentally preparing for as I near the Cowtown.
It should also be no surprise that my best races (minus my 10k PR…that’ll be covered in a future post) saw me running with, or competitively chasing, other runners.
If you’re so fortunate as to land with someone close to, or a little faster than, your pace, it can be a huge help on race day. This is why pace groups are a popular option for a lot of runners in both Half and Full Marathons. But you probably knew that.
Part of the reason that I’ve struggled in no man’s land in races, I think, is due to my former running group. Long runs were group runs. Those weekdays when you struggle to have the will to go out alone? Grab someone. Speed work? I could entice someone to come with me. And let’s be real, knocking out 20+ miles is way easier with friends than it is by yourself.
When I moved to Ames, I was used to running alone for most of my runs. Then I became accustomed to having company. Now that I’ve moved to Illinois, I’m back on my own for almost every single run. Out of 214 miles in 2018 so far, 203 of those have been solo runs.
And now, I’m fully aware that some of you reading this always run, and maybe prefer, to run alone. You’re probably thinking “This dude is a wimp.” Maybe you’re right, but I’ll still take a 20 mile group run over a solo one any day.
Do you run with a group? Tackle your miles alone? Or mix and match?