I have been running for around 17 years, having started as an overweight, late twenty-something living in a new city, with no connections to anyone other than my then partner.
At first, it was an activity I did very slowly, on my own. I didn’t know anyone, let alone anyone who ran, and my total lack of confidence stopped me from seeking out anyone who did because I felt to slow/too fat/too unfit to run with anyone else anyway.
I gradually built up my confidence by doing running events and the distances got longer; from 10k, to half marathon and then eventually to a full marathon, losing weight in the meantime. My relationship was coming to an end, and I was desperately lonely by this time. This gave me enough of a push give the running club a go, and it was an experience which changed my life.
I realised that far from being the preserve of the elite, fast and super fit, I met men and women of all ages, sizes and running ability. From those who were super fast, to those who were plodding in their 70’s with their mates on a Tuesday and Thursday. It was here that I realised that the true benefit of running was not about your physical fitness and weight loss, but in the social interaction that you get from running.
Since then, I have met thousands of runners, almost all of whom are more interested in meeting other likeminded people and encouraging them along, than beating everybody else in sight in an eyeballs out sprint finish.
The confidence I gained from this experience empowered me to find a new, less isolating job in a career path I enjoy, and to fall in love with another runner from the same club, and marry her. Running, and my running club will be a part of my life forever, and I look to those runners in their later years and know that if I can keep running like them, I will have enjoyed a good life, full of good people, and great memories.
There are now more ways than ever to get into running, and to enjoy it with other people – seek out a couch to 5k group and see how it goes!. I appreciate that running is not for everyone, but the principle behind what I am saying is that if you can find an activity that you enjoy, you will be able to find other people who enjoy it too; be brave and seek them out, and then you can make memories you will enjoy for the rest of your life.