I like to run alone, far away from any screen or social media app. I like to run alone in the woods or by a stream, or through a field of wildflowers in full bloom that I know won’t be around much longer.
I like to run alone up mountains and down forest roads where the miles tick by and you’re back at your car before you know it. Some days I even like to run alone on a treadmill and listen to my favorite songs.
I like to run alone because it gives me time to think, or time to not think.
I like to run alone because I get to set the pace and listen to my body. Some days I’m just not feeling it and need to dial it back. But occasionally, I feel good and just want to fly.
I love running with others more than I like running alone. I love pacing friends and watching their exhausted faces light up after they’ve given it their all and crossed the finish line.
I love pub runs and hot chocolate runs, and weekend getaways where we run and then sit by a campfire while telling stories. I love big events where I feel like a small fish in a big sea, and small events where it’s intimate enough to get to know just about everyone in the race.
I love getting a hot lunch with friends after a long run on a cold winter morning or sitting inside an adventure van and fighting over the last can of Coors Light.
I love planning trips to races and all the logistics that go into it. I love the sound of cowbells and volunteers cheering me on as I run into an aid station and the boost of energy it gives me. I love the anxiety and nervousness I feel before every race. I don’t love it in the moment when I toss and turn and can’t sleep and worry that I won’t have the energy to perform my best with such little shuteye. But I love how I have the opportunity to participate in a sport that makes me anxious and nervous in the first place. I love how running makes me feel live.
Right now it looks like I’m going to be doing a lot of running alone. Races are being cancelled. Training groups are being cancelled. And even my favorite pub runs are being cancelled.
Those days will come again, though—hopefully real soon. But right now, I’m going to be running alone and that’s okay.
There will be more races. There will be more pub runs. And there will be more anxious nights where I lie awake in bed wondering if I have what it takes to achieve my goals.
In the meantime, I’ll go find a trail somewhere and just go for a run. I’ll listen to the birds and the water flowing in the streams, and the leaves crackling under my feet. And I’ll leave all the noise behind.