The running community is such an invaluable support system that I’ve taken for granted lately. I generally had always preferred running alone, for the convenience of planning around my own schedule and the selfishness of wanting time to myself. However, now that I’ve been building up my mileage, I realize I can only handle enough “me” time. After a short-lived fascination with running-mindfulness, it’s clear that I can only withstand so much time silently observing my surroundings. I started to question my motives for running, feeling like these long runs were stealing time from other priorities in life.
Last week’s 23km (14mi) was painful and uninspired. My legs felt heavy as I dragged myself through unfamiliar streets and repetitive park loops. I was frustrated by the need to look at my phone every few minutes to make sure I was on the right path and would cover enough mileage by the end of it. The previous week, I genuinely enjoyed my first half marathon of the year, but this time, my long run felt like a chore. Unlike the race’s beautiful coastal route, the local streets and parks in that day’s gloomy London weather just weren’t cutting it for me (plus, there was no medal nor cheering crowds to keep me going). I needed to change up my training strategy if I wanted to stay optimistic for the next two months leading up to the London Marathon.
The following week, I dreaded my next long run, which was scheduled to be a 17-miler, or just a little over 26km. I couldn’t imagine running any further than my last run if my motivation level was to stay this low. Then, at just the right moment, LDN Brunch Club invited me to join them. This East London-based running group organizes weekly Sunday long runs followed by a cheeky brunch with good company. Most of them are training for different events including the London and Paris Marathons. This meant that many of them were roughly at the same mileage in their training plans, though I was still afraid of being able to keep up with the pace and distance as a late joiner who had already fallen behind in my program.
I had been in contact with one of the co-founders of LDN Brunch Club before the year started and was planning to join then, but I felt like I was getting really busy and that I wouldn’t be able to commit. After giving it a second thought and starting to feel jealous from their amazing photos of brunch and what looked like a fun and supportive community, I decided to face my commitment issues, stop using “busy” as an excuse, and join the crew.
While a 17-mile first run might sound like a terrifying frat initiation, it was anything but that. The group was incredibly welcoming and supportive throughout the run. I thought it would be a challenge to keep up with so many more experienced runners than myself, but it turns out it was both easier and more enjoyable—even at such a long distance. I intentionally ditched my headphones for the first time and found that great conversation is a way better substitute, despite the extra effort it demands of your breathing technique.
After a good three-hour run, we headed to Ceviche for a hard-earned three-hour brunch. At least, only those of us who stuck around for some donuts, beers and brunch cocktails made it through the three hours. For 1440-calorie workout, I’d say it was well-deserved. Plus, they were pumpkin donuts, so that’s healthy, right?
It was undoubtedly a great day, and I never thought 17 miles could feel so good. So thank you, LDN Brunch Club, for being there at the perfect time to support my goals, refresh my motivation, and start new friendships. I’m looking forward to training more with you all and contributing to the positive and vibrant community you already have going strong.
Today’s post-run recovery day is the 29th of February, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this extra day of the year. I made time to slow down at breakfast, take yoga before a healthy lunch, and will finish off the day working on a side project that I wasn’t able to make time for yesterday. And with my American friends just starting their days, I’d like to challenge you all to make this extra day count, whatever that means to you.