I have always run on my own, and I have been curious as to what it would be like to run with others. To that end, I decided to do a Parkrun (http://www.parkrun.org.uk). If you are not aware of Parkrun, it is a 5k run held on every Saturday morning, in most major towns and cities, not only in the UK but also around the world. Anyone is welcome, of every age and degree of running – or walking – competence. It is staffed by volunteers and is very well organised. There are no runner obligations or charges, but if you pre-register and download a barcode which you show on completion of the run, your time will be shown on the local website.
In my home town about 400 people turn up. The start is, not surprisingly, quite congested, and that alone is an incentive to break free of the pack. There are very young children, people pushing pushchairs, people in the 70s and even 80s, people with - and sometimes being pulled along by - dogs.
I found myself focussing on someone ahead of me, attempting at least to catch them up, if not overtake them. As speed is a priority for me, I try to keep up a good pace but towards the end it becomes punishing. And that is where determinism comes into play. I have to make the reasons to push on – harder! faster! - overcome the mental block trying to overcome me. And when I log in and check my time and placing and find - whoopee – I’ve done better than last time, it all becomes worthwhile.
While I have always, in my short running career, raced against myself, doing a Parkrun is a whole new kettle of poisson. When I saw my first Parkrun results, it really incentivised me to better myself on my next one. And, hopefully, so on.