Running partners bring out the worst in me.

I used to think that running with someone would motivate me to run. In college, it motivated me because my running partner was slower than me. So, I was winning a race my friend didn’t know she entered. Every time I passed a slower runner, I’d mentally pat myself on the back.

Well, anyway, I know I’m not the fastest runner so these moments were few but cherished. Also, I prefer distance to time, so even if some clown did pass me, I’d always tell myself they’re not going as far.

Sometimes I was right and they’d eat my dust as I ran past them twenty minutes later.

Other times they lapped me and I’d wonder where I went wrong.

So, speed isn’t really that big of a deal. (Is that what losers say? Probably. Whatever.) If I could comfortably run for an hour, I would be genuinely happy (even if I came in dead last. Okay, second to last. I could never really be last).

Because of this, I never really run with anyone. I mean, sure I say let’s do this or that, and maybe I would run, but I couldn’t run side by side. Let me get to exactly why.

For starters, no one is equal. I can try to slow my pace for someone, but then I get irritated. Why should I have to slow down for someone? I get into my head and wonder why I ever needed a partner to begin with. Eventually I say, “will you be offended if I go ahead without you?” Of course, no one would ever say yes. Actually, if they said yes, I think I would implode.

The other (much worse) side of the coin is if they are faster. You see, it starts small. They’re a few feet ahead of you. Then they’re farther away. Then they’re so far away that you wonder if you’re walking.

Then you can’t see them, and you’re convinced that you’re walking backwards.

So, while I love the idea of running with a partner (you have someone else to make a mix for [I like to think my partner would love my mixes, but we know that’s not true], you get to stretch together with them afterward [and not feel like a tool], you can talk about it [or not, sometimes I don’t want to], you can make a smoothie together [or maybe they prefer to buy one—I’d probably not be their running partner then, though], you can shower [separately, but the after-shower laying around or sitting around is really my fav], and then you can make food [yum]), the drawbacks are bad for my psyche.

There’s another option, though. I forgot this one. This is when they’re faster than you, but they know how you feel, so they just run alongside you, because they’re nice like that.

At first glance, this is really sweet. It’s just that after a little bit, I start to overanalyze. Are we really that in sync with our running pace? Really, though?

The horrible realization that I’m holding them back is the worst. It’s like that song by Motion City Soundtrack. You know the one.

The acoustic version, though.

Yeah, I love and hate that song for various reasons, but that song kicks on and I suddenly realize that I’m holding them down!

Then I call them out and they run past me, which is great for them (and I’m glad), but horrible for me. If I have to sit and watch someone run (or walk, or bike—or merely exist) in front of me, my mind works in overdrive. I try to adjust my pace. I’m determined to pass them. I end up mentally exhausting myself. It’s a horrible feeling.

Side story:

One day, I was running around the park when this child on a bike decided that her mission that day was to stay about 5 feet in front of me for the duration of my run.

I wished unspeakable things on her. I have never abhorred a child like that before. I would finally get past her and then she’d speed up and pass me again! Just thinking about this gets me a bit angry. Eventually, I passed her and I could only hope she fell off that bike and it broke into an unusable mess.

Whatever.

It’s just torture.

Why am I writing this?

Because I have a running partner. I have the best running partner on the planet. He’s my best friend and loves me more than most people.

Mogli.

We don’t go far, because he’s still a newbie, but I’m glad. If I ran alone, I can bet a thousand dollars that I’d develop shin splints within two weeks of overdoing it. I like to think I can do anything (I really can if I set my mind to it), but I have zero patience when it comes to physical limitations. I’m healthy, and I’m competitive. There’s no reason I can’t run five miles tonight if I wanted to. I could, too.

Except that I’d tear my legs up, and we don’t need a repeat of that. I’ve never been unhappier than when I couldn’t run (actually, that’s not true, but it’s a different kind of happiness).

So, Mogli is a blessing and I’m glad I have him.

We run a mile and a half every other day. I’m hoping that we can do two miles next week. Last week we did a mile and he’s already upped it to 1.5

Today, we ran into another runner (this is why I’m writing). She was trucking along on another block, but we ran into her.

She was in front of us about the span of a block.

Well, I didn’t think much about it. I didn’t let my crazy competitive self think about it, because we gained on her! We were practically next to her within a few minutes!

Yeah, I know.

Whatever, it’s the little things. For me. It’s always the little things. Nothing else even matters.

So yeah, we finished our run together, did some quick yoga, and hung out together. Mogli had a quick sprint in the backyard an hour later (he’s got energy), and now we’re in bed. He’s sleeping against my knee as I write.

He runs faster than me at first, but within ten minutes, he’s at my pace and keeping it.

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