Over the years I have been watching running groups develop and grow. I can think back to the very beginning of my running days and I can still remember always meeting folks to get a good run in. My very first run was with my Dad and a few other kids in the neighborhood. I enjoy having running company but typically I run alone. Do you run no matter what? Do you need a group or running partner to keep you accountable? Either way, having someone to run with can be beneficial.
My first real running partner was Steve Carter. We were just kids and he only lived one mile from me in Gadsden. We established a routine; one of us always ran to the other’s house for a run. We typically just picked up the phone and made a quick call and the run was set. I can remember sometimes when he couldn’t go for a run; I may end up not going myself. We had lots of good conversations, mostly about running and who was running fast times or what race was coming up. We also pushed each other pretty hard; some of our runs became races no doubt. It was mostly just us, but we did meet up with some others on weekends for some good training. We were also involved with the Gadsden Track Club.
I moved to Huntsville in 1984, I did not know too many folks but I did join the Huntsville Track Club. Joining the HTC allowed me to get to know some of the members and get to know the running scene here better. I have been a member ever since then and still highly recommend every runner should have a membership at their local running club. I was pretty excited about moving to Huntsville. I knew that the HTC and the running scene here was much more vibrant than in my hometown of Gadsden. I just knew that my running PR’s were all going to drop just because of moving here. I was right.
Mark Dummer became my first real training partner here in Huntsville. Mark was from Arab. He went to Auburn and worked full time during the summers. We had met a few times at the races and became quick friends. Mark finished at Auburn and was super busy with the new job in Arab, but made a commitment to meet me every Thursday evening for a 10 mile run on Monte Sano. Mark was always in high gear with his busy life style. We ran the 10 miler on Thursday’s like clockwork. Mark was a faster runner than me so he helped to push me. Over time, different runners would ask us how they could become better runners themselves. Mark would just look at me and say, come run on Monte Sano with us at 5pm. That group grew to 25 runners on some Thursdays and it was probably some of the best 10 mile training runs I ever did.
Today, we have “We Run Huntsville” posting places to meet and train. Fleet Feet Sports has multiple training groups complete with coaches and goal races. I have watched this evolve over the last 11 years and it’s a great thing to see. More people running and getting fit. I can just mention a possible training group with a specific race these days and folks get excited. If you are used to running alone, I suggest try meeting up with friends or a group to train. Time passes quickly and you typically can improve by placing yourself with faster runners. Lots of memories are made with your friends training. I hesitate to think about how many runs I have been on in the past 38 years. When I do think about it, my mind goes back to runs when I was with someone out on the trails, when the leaves were turning colors, a lite mist in the air, a warm pleasant feeling comes over me and I am thankful for the memories. It is my happy place and the visions of good times running will remain with me forever.