Until this week, I worked part-time for a start-up company as a running coach. I helped beginning runners find the joy, passion and fun I have in running. I enjoyed it; it was one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve ever had. Because of some changes in the company and philosophical differences, I gave my notice and still feel sad about it.
San Francisco has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Much of the individual identity is gone, given over to the monotone looks of the tech workers and their industry in general.
The company I resigned from, (which I will not name), has decided to form its customer base around these tech professionals instead of the base of San Franciscans already here. This is a shame. San Francisco has always been a huge running city, with lots of races and running fanatics like me.
Unlike the herds of techsters who seem to not be able to go anywhere without going in threes or small packs, running is a solitary sport. Most San Franciscans understand this and thrive in running’s solitude. Sure, we can go for runs with our friends or form small running clubs, but at the heart of it, it is just ourselves, and most serious runners’ runs are done alone. The competition is between us and our inner demons, more so than any other sport, we have to learn to listen to certain inner voices and turn others off.
So, when I was told I needed to try to get my sessions filled with four clients, I knew it wasn’t for me. I understand the need to make money, but the clients were paying a lot each month and getting shuffled into a group class may not be what they wanted for their monthly fee.
Even though I like to occasionally go for a group run, it certainly isn’t the way I want to spend the great majority of my running hours. I look forward to my time alone on the road. When I can’t get the miles in, I hunger for that solitude. It’s my time to challenge myself, but also my time to allow my mind to wander, sometimes thinking of silly things like song lyrics or enjoying the beauty of a road or path I’m covering.
Not everyone wants to run long distances. Some would just like to run two or three miles and be done with their cardio for the day. Yet, there are those of us who crave the calming, punishing long miles. One I get into my groove, slow though it is, I enter a peace I have at no other time.
What an amazing sense of accomplishment it is every time I finish a long run. Beforehand, I pack as if I’m going away for the weekend, and I’m always happy I did. When I get back home, rolled out the tight knots in my muscles and take my shower, I feel tired and happy. Nothing else gives me the pleasure of a long, solo run. Nothing.
I know that I will find another position in fitness again. I’m working towards that goal and will give out more information with it’s available. But, until then, I’ll be out running by myself, adding up the miles, gearing up for my next half marathon.