Let me start by stating the obvious – it’s really hard to make friends as an adult.
When I moved back to Centerville after finishing college, I felt incredibly alone. None of my close friends from high school were living in the area, I had recently split up with my longtime boyfriend, and I found myself seriously questioning what I was doing back here in Dayton.
Since then, I’ve been able to find some really wonderful women that I get to call friends. I recently spent some time reflecting on how those relationships were formed, and it occurred to me that almost all of the women that I am the closest to in my life today are friends that I’ve made through exercise. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.
It started with a group of friends that formed through a mutual desire to get healthy and lose weight. We used the hashtag #healthyhabitsdayton and we supported each other on social media, but a core group of us also supported each other in real life, too.
We organized social events that centered around sharing (mostly healthy) meals, running 5Ks, and doing other outdoor activities like hiking at Sugarcreek Reserve. I got to be exceptionally close with several women through this group as we worked toward our common goal of becoming the healthiest versions of ourselves. Two of those women have moved away from Dayton now, but I still count them as some truly special friends. There was something about working toward a common goal that helped bring us closer together.
Shortly after my first daughter was born, I decided to join a bootcamp group. It’s hard to believe, but that was nearly 5 years ago now, and I’ve been a consistent member ever since. Those women from bootcamp – they are my people. The community I’ve found rivals the community you’ll find anywhere else in this world. These ladies lift each other up in more ways than I can even begin to explain. I’ve met women I never would have encountered but for my membership in this bootcamp. I am forever grateful for this special, close-knit community that I’m a part of.
Most recently, in the fall of 2017, I attended a group run put on by the Dayton/Miamisburg chapter of Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town. It was a Halloween themed pub-run, and I didn’t know a single person there. Talk about going out of my comfort zone! My second daughter was only a few months old at that time, and I was looking for a way to get back into running and to connect with other moms. I found my opportunity with MRTT. Since that first run, I’ve been hooked. I’m an active member of our MRTT chapter now, and I regularly meet up with women I’ve met solely thanks to this group, both for running and non-running activities. Again, I’ve connected with women that I never would have met otherwise. This group has been a game-changer in my life.
Each of these groups of women has positively impacted my life and changed me for the better. More importantly, each of these groups of women has introduced me to new people who have become some of my closest friends. It doesn’t seem like a workout is the best opportunity to make new friends, but the truth is – it’s a great time to do it. When you are surrounded by like-minded women, they challenge you in the moment to push yourself harder and to be your best. There is something about sharing sweat and doing something hard together that automatically creates a bond between people. It’s nearly impossible to explain the why behind it, but I know this to be true.
When we sweat with other women, consistently, over a period of time, a sisterhood begins to form. We share our workouts, sure, but we also have time to talk. We share our goals, we share our passions, we share our troubles. We share our “why.” Why are we working out? Why are we dragging ourselves out of bed at 5 a.m. to exercise? Why are we pushing ourselves to our limits? Why do we keep coming back when it feels impossible?
In running, especially, it’s so easy to form friendships. It’s amazing how much of a person’s life you can learn about in the course of an hour or two spent running together. If you’ve never tried carrying on a conversation while you run, I encourage you to give it a shot. It’s not your typical run-so-hard-you’re-out-of-breath type run. It should be a conversational pace, just about covering the distance and not about the finish time. If you’re up for a run like that, and you take a friend along with you, you might be surprised what all you can learn in that time.
I’ve spent runs talking with friends about our children, our spouses, our hopes and our dreams. I’ve listened while someone I had only just met shared her heart about a sick family member. We talk about running goals and our upcoming races. We push each other to try new distances or push for faster paces, even when it’s scary.
If you’ve never tried it for yourself, I urge you to take a chance. Give a new workout a try, either with a friend or solo. If you go alone, I challenge you to talk to someone new while you are there. I think you’ll be surprised at what an amazing sisterhood you can find through sharing stories while you sweat. It certainly has worked out for me!