The art of running solo…

I ended up having two really good runs this weekend.  I went to bed Friday night assuming Jasper would keep up his trend of waking before 5am….and I was correct, a lovely 4:20 wake up.    But I was prepared this time and splurged on Spirit of the Marathon II.  A $12.99 itunes purchase.  I LOVED this movie, so I figure I will watch it more than once.  I spent 6 miles on the ‘mill watching my movie with my little sidekick on the couch and at about 6:30, I hoped off, put on a dry shirt, since the treadmill makes me sweat buckets, and woke up Mike to take over the little early waker.  Then I hit the hills that are on the other side of the highway from my house for about 13 and a half miles total.    This is not a bad way to do a run at all.  The treadmill miles seem to cancel out in my head, and I forget them, so the other miles seem easy.    This brings me to today’s topic:

Surviving a buddy-less run.

In a perfect world, I would have a running buddy in my neighborhood that I could run to a designated meeting place.  We’d be the same pace and be training for the event, so our distances would match as well.  I don’t have this.  I have a core group of running friends, but I am the only one living much further north than the rest of them.  This makes it impossible for me to meet up with them M-F.   Weekends can be tricky too with kid activities and kid schedules that aren’t necessarily conducive  to driving across town to meet people.  So I run alone…a lot.  Here’s what works for me:

I try to map out my route the night before.  I find if I wing it when I’m on my own, I’m tempted to cut out distance.  For shorter, mid week runs, I have an arsenal of 6-7 mile routes and those I’ll just decide at the last minute when I get up.  If I am on the treadmill, I try to have a bunch of stuff on standby to watch on the ipad so I’m ready to roll.  There are some advantages to going solo.  Route, pace, start time and bathroom stops aren’t subject to approval.  I’ll do exactly what I think needs to be done, and I’m not stressing about racing out the door to meet someone.  My week  is full of situations where I’m racing the clock to be somewhere on time.  It’s nice sometimes to not have more scheduling on a weekend.

As far as mind games to get through a long time solo, I’m still working on those.  Loops help me, because I won’t get overwhelmed by miles, I just think 3 loops, or 4 loops, or whatever.  If I find myself drifting into negative thoughts, I always try to come back to reminding myself I am doing something I love to do , and am very fortunate to do it.  For a few really long solo runs I’ve done, I’ve succumbed to an a podcast on my phone while I run, as long as it’s light out and I’m aware of traffic.

On the other hand, Sunday, I met a couple friends at Walnut Creek and it was heavenly.  The miles flew by as we chatted.  The fact I run alone so much, makes meeting friends a big treat to look forward to, and those miles are all the easier.

Also…virtual running buddies are fun.  My friend Steve and I did this when we ran the Tulsa marathon.  We’d text each other on Fridays before our long runs and then Saturday after we’d finished.  He moved back here, but we still sorta do this if we aren’t able to meet up for a Saturday long run.  It’s not the same as a partner to do the whole run with, but it helps, and makes things a little less lonely.   I am looking forward to having Stephanie as a virtual partner for the KC marathon!

So that’s about all I have in my bag of tricks.  A solo run is nice from time to time, but it doesn’t mean I’m not keeping my eyes open for another 5am regular in my ‘hood who looks like they want a partner.

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