September 16th, 2016 – By Lauren Simmons
Most recreational runners know the appeal of training with a group: there’s familiar faces week after week, a shared sense of purpose, and there’s always someone to keep you company for those long runs, no matter your pace. Between traditional running groups like those hosted by The Running Room, and newer, more socially-driven groups like Parkdale Roadrunners and RunTOBeer, there’s likely a group for everyone. I’ve drifted in and out of running groups, myself, but I always come back to the reason I love running and why I started running in the first place: to be alone.
I started running when I was in university, living with a roommate during the school year and my family during the summers. Running was my way of carving out a little space for myself in my day or week, and that remains true to this day. I know I’m not the only runner who has sorted out tough stuff on the road; running helped me find peace and calm through my struggles with infertility and a miscarriage. No matter how hopeless things felt, my running shoes were always waiting for me, early in the morning, filled with possibility of a faster time and a new day. I needed to be with myself on those mornings.
Now that I’m a new mom, solo running is once again my way of having some breathing room in my day. After my daughter is asleep, no matter how long the day has been, I know I can have just a few minutes of time alone, with my music or podcasts or sometimes just my thoughts. For many women, returning to exercise after childbirth can be challenging and daunting, but for me, getting back to running was something I knew I had to do. The physical adjustments have been many, and my return has been slow and measured. I may never return to the paces of my running past. But running will always be there, simple and true. In the act of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again, I find a place for my thoughts, a way to work through my challenges, and most importantly, I find space, for just myself.
The great thing about solo running is that no matter the time of day, I always see another runner, or two, or many. We share a nod or a hello, and we continue on our own paths. In a way, this is why I’m running for Nellie’s Shelter for Women and Children in this year’s STWM Half Marathon. It’s important for me to support families at times of crisis, as a way to let them know that they, like me, are not alone.
About Lauren: I’m thrilled to be returning for my third time running the STWM Half-Marathon, raising funds for Nellie’s Shelter for Women and Children. I’ve been running recreationally for about 15 years, having conquered the sub-25 5k and the sub-55 10k, and this will be my fourth half-marathon in pursuit of the elusive sub-2. As a new mum (my baby turns one year old the day before STWM), raising funds for Nellie’s is incredibly meaningful to me, and I’m looking forward to sharing the challenges and realities of training with a baby. When I can, I also cycle and swim, I’m a pacer with the RunTOBeer crew. Connect with Lauren on Twitter and Instagram.