Written by Lauren MacDonald
My dad has always been my favorite running partner. Since the day I walked onto the cross country team in 8th grade, he’s been there for me. In fact, he was there even before that—when I ran in Canastota’s Nate the Great race, my first 5K.
Growing up, my siblings and I were all involved in swimming and so was my mom. My father, on the other hand, hated swim meets as they were too long and the over-chlorinated, warm air drove him crazy. So when we started playing other sports, he was ecstatic and by the time I started running with the cross-country team in 8th grade, my dad was all in.
He took me to Fleet Feet to get my first pair of running shoes, discussed race strategy with me, and went on long runs with me on the weekend. Summer nights and weekends were spent at training runs or road races with him. My first half-marathon was done side-by- side with him my senior year of high school. As I ran in college—and then stopped running in college—my runs with my father became fewer and farther between. Meanwhile, my dad became a more dedicated runner than I. He trained for and completed multiple marathons, qualifying for Boston then New York City. He joined a running group where, much to the chagrin of my mother, he spent most Sunday mornings celebrating at the Church of the Open Road.
I fell away from running, but my dad never stopped. And on my journey back to running, he’s been there—suffering through embarrassingly slow, short runs with me, listening to my excited phone calls about long runs accomplished, and the tearful ones about plantar fasciitis and frustration at just how out-of- shape I'd let myself become.
Recently, my dad and I went for a run together—the first in a long time—and I reflected on how important it is to have someone to run with. Don’t get me wrong, one of the things I love most about running is the solitude and the ability to sort through your thoughts on your own. But I think, in general, we are infinitely more successful when we have someone to hold us accountable, someone who gets us out the door.
I started running as part of a team and never knew what running was like without that support system until the day I left college. It was a rude awakening and I very quickly realized that nobody cared whether or not I got out and ran. And so, I didn’t get out and run. It took joining a running community for me to start running with any type of regularity.
With winter coming, it's easy to put running on the back burner, preferring to stay in the warm house instead of braving the outdoors (or the treadmill) to get those miles in. My suggestion is to find a running buddy or join a training group. Perhaps, call up an old friend you haven’t run with in a while, or a new friend who has always talked about running. Any way you do it, find a running partner and the coming winter months might not be so cold and joyless!