Do you have that best friend forever or best running friend who you train with, make race plans with and ultimately know they’ll generally always be down for an adventure no matter what? We do- it’s each other, and we know how it can feel when the other of us is sidelined, whether it’s due to injury, life (work, family, etc.) or just lack of interest in training at that time. Hear both of our perspectives when one of us is rocking and rolling and the other of us is sidelined, and some tips to navigate pre, during, and after the other is sidelined.
Last summer (2019), I was heavily training for a tough mountain 50 miler, as was Tera. She was also training for a pancake flat 50 miler a few weeks before her tough mountain 50 miler, so she was getting in some varied terrain in her weekday runs to help her at both events. We dedicated most weekends for a couple of months to 3k+ foot climbing adventures in our backyard, the mountains of Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina- our favorite types of adventures.
Around early July, a month and a half before my race and one month before her mountain race, my back spazzed (something that had never happened before) and training became a little more difficult over the next few weeks. I managed, but it wasn’t to my liking or my potential. Tera KILLED her mountain race and I was stoked for her! That was her first mountain run of that caliber and she nailed it! While she was killing it at her race in Vancouver, I was dying a little on the inside knowing I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I toed the line at my race at the end of August.
I fell just a few miles in, irritated the back/piriformis once again, and dropped from the 50 mile distance to the race’s 16 mile distance. Upset, a little angry at my body and admittedly jealous of Tera’s recent performance, I had to share with the world of my crap-shoot of a race. After a couple of days and bah-humbugs, I got over my pity party and decided my body had needed a break. I went from a 100k in February that year to training for the mountain 50 miler…and after a rollerskating accident before the 100k, my body was broken.
Tera rocked both of her races and was able to keep on running in the most beautiful season in western N.C.- FALL! I, on the other hand, took a nice, long break and started working with my PT and a chiropractor. I had a sacral stress fracture that would need some obvious time to heal those next few months, so that’s what I focused on through early 2020.
Long story, short: when your BFF/BRF is kicking a**, cheer her on and be her accountability-buddy. Even if that means swallowing your pride, admitting it’s not your time or season and putting your tail between your legs. But, before you *ever* commit to a race, goal or adventure with your BFF/BRF, have the conversation: “What will happen if one of us quits training or during the event or doesn’t make it to the starting line?” Getting that out in the open is CRITICAL so that the pity-party and jealous feelings don’t begin and ultimately hurt your friendship. Because we all know a start line and a finish line are never promised. But lean on your BFF/BRF and use them as motivation to hold yourself accountable!
2019 was a running season like no other…I went ALL IN with nutrition, consistency in my training, strength training and I learned to be really in tune with my body. I was so excited and never felt so good! I also had accomplished a lot by getting certified as a running coach and had opened a studio space to train my clients! So, I was riding the year of accomplishments and adventures!
During this same year, it was heartbreaking to see Mindy struggle with her injury and her body telling her it was time to rest! It’s always so hard to slow down when you really want to push harder and keep going. I was sad for her and I knew it was crushing her after training so hard! I have always admired Mindy’s dedication to her training and how committed she is to always hitting every run with passion and gratitude! In past years I have been honored to not only crew her, but pace her on 100k and 100 milers. Watching her crush 2017-to the first part of 2019 is what inspired me to go after my dream race-Squamish 50 in 2019. She was on my mind while I ran and I kept hearing her telling me to enjoy every step with gratitude. Her dedication inspired me to keep going and stop being afraid of failing!
I think the takeaway for me is- we inspire each other to be better, even when we aren’t at our best. We keep pushing each other, even when we don’t think we could take another step.
When Mindy was recovering I would hike or walk with her. Or we would find ways to move to keep moving forward-stretching, strength training, or WINE and cookie dough….nah…just kidding…well, maybe 🙂 But, being there for each other during our weakest also encouraged us to be there for each other when the other was kicking ass! Even if it wasn’t at the same time!
I agree with Mindy’s feedback: talk about the “what if’s”. Be aware that you may need a plan A, B, C, or D. Be open with each other about how to call each other out and keep moving forward! I am always disappointed if the game plan change, but I am always very happy to become part of the crew, put on my Unicorn hat and tutu, and be the biggest cheerleader! After all, we all need a cheering, dancing unicorn at the aid stations or a loud AF cheering squad at the finish! I’m going to be sure you cross that finish line! FYI-I’ve always said I was a better crew person than a runner!
Get out there, make some goals with your BFF/BRF and get some (s)miles in together! Happy trails, sisters!
Mindy is a leader of the Trail Sisters Asheville, NC chapter, a fan of endurance running, and an advocate of getting womxn into the woods, out of their comfort zone, and accomplishing things that they never knew were a possibility. Follow Mindy on IG: @mileswithmindy
Tera is a leader of the Trail Sisters Asheville, NC chapter, Endurance Coach, Strength Training & Nutrition Coach with a passion to empower women to take up space on the trails and chase after those scary AF BHAG’s (big hairy a** goals)! Follow Tera on IG: @tera_pruett