Live Your Film

Alone or in a Pack, Finding Peace on the Run

by Franny Bendert

Franny Austin Trail

I’m such a lucky girl to have friends who are willing to run with me and support my training efforts — or lack there of. So why do I sometimes choose to go alone? Whether I exercise with friends or find peace on my own, both scenarios provide a healthy platform for emotional health.

I have always been a morning person. When I was a teenager, I recognized how peaceful it was for my mom to rise early and savor her quiet time. I only noticed this on occasion, being a teenager at the time who savored sleep, although, I found myself envious of her discipline to be out of bed before sunrise. Everyone spends their private moments engaging in what makes them happy. For my mother, it was reading, reflecting, planning her day, or organizing her thoughts and prayers.

My Turn for the Mornings

I eventually adopted the early-morning quiet time once I was out of college. At first, it was a hot pot of coffee and the newspaper, but eventually I began to get out of bed for early morning runs before I settled in with my coffee and paper. Being outside hours before most people began their day gave me a special nugget of mental calm and stability I took with me throughout my day.

It’s been proven that starting your day with exercise allows for health benefits, energy and focus, but for me, it was more about communing with myself. I truly believe people who are comfortable being alone are more confident and and purposeful in other aspects of their life.

Many years have passed and I have changed and grown as a person, but I have always been a morning runner. If I have to run in the afternoon or evening, I never feel as committed. I want to get it over with. As for running by myself, I still find much harmony and strength manifest with my “self” time. Yet, years of running have also allowed me to meet many friends with the same hobby.

Creating Bonds Over Miles

My first marathon required me to train with a group (all of us from different walks of life). Without our Saturday morning long runs, it was unlikely we would have spent time together or made a connection, coming from such different lifestyles.

I soon realized, once our training was over, how much I missed their company, appreciated our differences and the unique manner in which we came together — running for the same goal. Miles seemed to tick off at a record pace amid our conversations, observations and anecdotes. I still needed my quiet, early-morning runs with myself, but I found I needed to look forward to some companionship and camaraderie to balance my emotional needs.

I eventually found my Team Film. Even though distance keeps me from their immediate company while exercising on a daily basis — I live in North Carolina while most of them are in Indianapolis — I have their spirit and heart with me at all times. I am sustained as a whole person knowing I have a group of powerful, diverse women to share and lean upon. We run, travel, laugh, plan and conquer. We create and roll our film.

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