Partners on the Pavement

RunningThe four-mile run I headed out for earlier this week was a route I’d done many times before. Not too easy. A few hills scattered throughout, making it as hard as you want it to be.

But this week, even though I completed it in the same amount of time, it seemed to go by faster.

Why? I wasn’t alone.

If there’s one thing that being a working Mom, wife and small business owner has taught me, it’s that those first couple of years of starting up your company can be lonely. Not lonely from family – my husband and I run the business together and we try very hard not to let work impact the quality or quantity of time we spend with our sweet 3-year-old son.

Rather, it can be lonely from the camaraderie of girlfriends. When there is free time during the workweek, I’ll sneak in an extra project or some reading to stay on top of my game. When I turn off the technology, it’s my husband and son I tune into.

Throw in the goal to run the Half-Marathon at Christopher Newport University’s Virginia Running Festival in November and the schedule really gets crunched.

This recent run, though, was with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in weeks. We talk on the phone, but scheduling lunch or a dinner for two had been an obstacle at best.

Since we both enjoy breaking a sweat, we figured scheduling a run together was our best shot.

Perfection! Not only did we get to catch up, trade Momma stories, chat about pre-schools, dream about the winter holidays and share advice on projects we were both working on, but we got to knock out our daily run, too.

I got to thinking about all the benefits of running with a partner and friends.

You’re committing yourself. When the alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. to meet at friend at 6:30 a.m. for a weekly run, you’re less likely to hit the snooze button when you know you’ll let someone other than yourself down by not showing up.

Friends push you…and they push you in just the right way. I’ve been running for months every Thursday with a great friend, who’s also an incredibly gifted athlete. She knows me in many ways (probably one of the few who sees what a closeted introvert I really am). She knows when I need to be pushed (run through discomfort, for example, but not pain) and when I need a little encouragement (a simple ‘last time’ on the hill intervals goes a LONG way in my head). When you run with friends, they’ll help you on a level that’s meaningful to you.

Running with someone stronger than you? Even better. The better they run, the harder you’ll try. At least that’s what works for me.

Later in this same running week, I found myself running with not just one friend, but in a pack of four. At one point, I literally said to them, “I just realized what my next Blog post will be all about. You guys.”

Moments before, during some hill intervals, I ended up behind one of the ladies. The back of her shirt said “LIVE LIFE STRONGER.”

Yes! That’s what we were all there for. To live life stronger for ourselves, for our families and for the days that are yet to come.

Stephanie Heinatz is a mother, wife, small business owner and running enthusiast who’s working to get back on her running game. Follow her training saga here as she gets ready for the Virginia Running Festival’s Half-Marathon at Christopher Newport University on Nov. 10, 2013.