Running with Friends?

I never thought I would enjoy running with a friend.

As much as I LOVE that (and all) episodes of Friends, there is something so genuinely true about the self-conscious way that women can treat exercise.  And I was the worst offender.

Running for me has always been a necessary evil.  It was never something I enjoyed, and definitely never something I would share in with a friend.  For me, running was a way to burn calories and nothing more.  Running with someone else?  Not possible!  My favorite excuses: I’m too slow, I’ll want to stop, and I sweat too much.

In college, I planned my classes around my schedule at the gym, and would feel utterly depressed for 24 hours if I wasn’t able to get in an hour at the PAC (Physical Activities Center, for those of you that didn’t go to Furman).  In many ways, the treadmill turned into an idol in my life.  I ran, not because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to.  The treadmill went at my pace, and I could stop or sprint whenever my heart desired.  At that time, there was no choice, no joy, and no freedom in it whatsoever.  I was a slave to feeling like I had done something productive with my time–and to a certain number I wanted the scale to say.

When I moved to Nashville, my physical, spiritual, and emotional strength seemed to plummet, while life’s social, professional, and personal demands were on the rise.  I moved away from family, stopped volunteering with Young Life, and transplanted myself in Nashville where I had very few connections. Soon, I started the hardest job I could have imagined, began dating Patrick, and was even trying to make a few friends.  Exercise went out the window.

Now two years later, the social, professional, and personal demands had abated, but my physical, spiritual, and emotional strength hadn’t really bounced back.

That’s part of what encouraged me to start my paleo journey.  Today, I feel so much healthier because of the good things I’m eating and the bad things I’m not.  And with that foundation, I felt the urge to start running again.  But this time–it’s for altogether different reasons.

For the first time in my life, I am able to run without feeling bloated, heavy, and mentally exhausted.  I’m able to abandon the treadmill for beautiful trails, roads, and greenways that are all over Nashville.  Although I never thought I’d say this… I’m actually ENJOYING running!  I’ve been able to run with friends, take Cooper along, and even carry on conversations while running 4 miles.

So, as I move closer to my half-marathon goal, I look forward to sharing with you the ups and downs of this new outlook on fitness.

What about you?  Have you had to come to terms with how you view exercise?  Would you ever want to run with a friend?  Have you been afraid to do that in the past?