This morning I turned in a 3-mile recovery run as part of the schedule I'm on, Hal Higdon's advanced half-marathon training plan. Normally I run with my training partner, but both our schedules are out of whack this week, so for the third day in a row (!) I ran alone in my neighborhood. Without a task to focus on, like intervals or specific pacing, I really felt the solitude. My mind drifted from one thing to another, I gazed at the stars (clear skies are one of the nice things about this exceptionally cold winter), and - believe it or not - I actually talked to myself. Out loud. All of these things reminded me how running by myself is something I need on occasion.
Earlier this week when I realized I would be on my own so much I was disappointed. I am a creature of habit, and running with my training partner the past few months had become a comfort. The camaraderie and the knowledge I was expected to be somewhere gave me something to look forward to during times of personal strife. The encouragement and motivation I received helped me push through barriers and reach goals. As good as the arrangement was though, I probably came to rely upon it too much.
I'm glad now that circumstance intervened and sent me out on my own again. Is it something I want to do every day? Hell, no. I really enjoy all the benefits of training with another. But I can see now how important it is to run for one's self sometimes. That we need to reach within ourselves for motivation and be left to our own thoughts.
Side note: I woke up a little before 4:00 this morning. I couldn't sleep, so I decided to get up and run. I've never run so early in my neighborhood before. It was the first time in three years I completed my run without seeing a single moving vehicle. As I got closer to the end I got nervous I was going to run across someone, but I never did. I can't tell you how many times one car ruined the silence.