Running with the Pack

Posted on June 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A couple of months ago my friend asked me to mentor for a running group she coaches through a local running store. Mentor other runners? I thought. Me? What do I know about mentoring runners?

Seems like a silly thing to say, considering my job. Director of an organization that mentors young girls through running. Sounds like a no-brainer, huh?

But the kind of mentoring I do in my own job does not relate to running. Not exactly. It relates to people. Talking them through rough spots, encouraging them when they’re disheartened, listening while they either vent or talk themselves to the solutions they already had but didn’t know it.  This kind of mentoring happens over phone calls, coffee. And runs.  group-run.97151459_std

Some of the best conversations, I’ve discovered, occur during runs. There’s something about running that opens us up, makes us vulnerable, when we’re side by side, sweating together, talking together, looking out to the path in front of us and not at each other. Not directly. It’s safer somehow, and we can say more than maybe we would over lattes or cheeseburgers.

So I’ve been mentoring other runners now for seven weeks. It’s a lot like mentoring coaches, team leads, and all the others I talk with, probably because they’re people, and people are people no matter what role they’re in. The only difference with this group, besides having to know something about running, is that we tend to get a little more sweaty in our sessions.

I love mentoring runners, and I’ve discovered some things about myself.

I like running with people almost as much as I like running alone, but for different reasons. Rather than simply knowing I’m part of a bigger community, I experience it. The community I run with is one of inclusion and hope, and no matter what else is going on in my day I know that I can show up and just be, and by the end of the session I walk away feeling good about life.

I’ve discovered that running is easy when you focus on someone other than yourself. My friend warned me before I joined that the runs I did for the group wouldn’t count as my own training runs; I’d still have to carry on with my own training plan. How can four, five, six mile runs not count? I asked. You’ll see, she smiled. And she was right. When you’re running next to or behind someone and paying attention to their form, their cadence, their level of exertion and counting off for them their mileage and their time you forget you’re running too, and it’s suddenly not so hard.

It’s kind of Booker T. Washington said:  “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else.” And so we lift each other through running.

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One Response to “Running with the Pack”

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OF COURSE, it is a no-brainer. Seems like the perfect role for you. 🙂

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