It turns out that I’m kind of a cat person. I would not have expected this, despite the fact that my family did own a cat during my teenage years, that we claimed him when he came meowing at our door one night, that we named him (Twinkie), combed his matted fur, and even paid for his surgery when he got hit by a car. No, I would not have thought of myself as a cat person. In fact, I don’t even want to talk about cats right now. I want to talk about running. It just so happens that today, cats and running crossed paths in my mind. So maybe it would be more accurate to say that I’m kind of a cat runner. Not a cat person, a cat runner. And I don’t mean sleek and lithe and with quick reflexes and a lightness that makes me almost impossible to hear as I sneak up behind you, although I’m that too. (Just kidding. I’m not.) I just mean that I’m a detached loner.
I like it that way, for the most part. I like being able to focus on my own pace, my own thoughts, to sort through things mentally and physically without the added work of being social (which is serious work for someone like me). But lately I’ve realized that running can be so much better with buddies. Not only because the chatter keeps me from thinking about the miles (especially on a long run), but because it keeps me true to my pace — the pace I should be running at.
So here’s the tip of the day: If you need help keeping pace — whether you want to go faster or slower — find someone to help you do it. If you want to run faster, find a buddy who is faster than you and let them know you’re game to be pushed a little bit. If you need to slow down, find a buddy who is more relaxed than you are and let them set the pace. Keeping fast runs fast will strengthen your muscles and improve your fitness, while keeping easy runs easy can help your body recover and keep injuries at bay. Not to mention it’s great to have someone to celebrate with at the end of a run.
I really enjoy being a cat runner, so
asocial and aloof graceful and silent. But if I’m being entirely honest, it’s when I team up with others that I’m really able to improve myself — as a runner and as a friend.