“Bonded by Burden”

I am borrowing this today from my favorite blog, written by Kristin Armstrong, the ex-Mrs. Lance. She is eloquent, thoughtful, and oftentimes really funny and I have quoted her before. I read this post this morning and felt compelled to share. Running with Team in Training and running with your girls in general… this is how it feels:

Bonded by Burden
05/04/2010 10:58 AM
Paige’s father is sick, really sick. Cancer. She went to see him yesterday.

I could tell she was struggling by the way I was struggling – to keep up with her – on our run this morning. If you have ever run beside a beloved sweat sister (or brother) who is working through something big, you know what I’m talking about. The way they attack every hill as if it personifies the thing they’re up against. The way they pump their arms in warning, churning their legs against the terrain. The way they want their legs and lungs to burn, because any self-inflicted pain is like an acupuncture needle, releasing the torment of deeper, unreachable areas. The way they steel their face and set their jaw and position themselves against every mile, honing their skills, making themselves ready. It reminds me of people in coastal towns before a storm, hammering plywood over windows, stacking sandbags, storing provision, watching the weather, and scanning the sky for signs. I don’t know that runners so much attempt to outrun or run from a challenge as much as we try to generate momentum to sustain the pace required to match it. It can’t roll over us and carry us away if we can keep up with it, stride for stride. We don’t know how to face anything other than to fuel for it, strengthen ourselves for it, and add the mileage necessary to endure it.

If you run next to someone in that place, there isn’t much to say – mostly because you can’t breathe. So you listen. And for as much as you want to prevent pain or alleviate circumstances when you love someone that much, you can’t. And in fact, to do so would eliminate the specific growth divinely appointed by the challenge. Just like you can never really help someone run (in the literal sense -it has to come from their own body, their own strength), you can’t really help someone endure in any sense of the word. But you can run beside someone. Sometimes your words can offer insight, levity, or community. But most of the time the solidarity of your silence, the sound of the footfalls and the breathing, is the greatest comfort in the world – knowing that there are people alongside you in your journey.

If your running group has not yet been bonded by a burden, keep training, because it’s unavoidable. And although heartache is never fun, experiencing it together is at the core of sweat sisterhood and brotherhood. Once you have run those hard miles together, you are permanently altered – the group becomes a team.

And over time, the team becomes a family.

Written by Kristin Armstrong
Posted on runnersworld.com – May 4, 2010