The Workout Buddy

George Nov Project.jpg

My son George runs up the steps of Harvard stadium, warming up at 5:30 a.m. for a timed run up all 37 sections. I did it with him, if "with" counts as being in the same stadium; he's much faster.

We were joined within the hour by more than a hundred extremely fit people, most of them under 30, who are part of Boston's November Project. This informal group gets together to work out and socialize early in the morning, three times a week. There are no dues, everything's free, and there's a lot of hugging. Before the group starts they do a giant collective hug and do a call and response: "Fuck yeah!" 

This was a departure for me. I'm  used to working out alone, running alone, and writing alone. It's mostly by choice. If I see another person on a mountain trail I act friendly while resenting him for violating my personal space. I also like working out alone, but that's partly out of benevolence toward humanity. I would hate to make others suffer through hearing my intense, bite-your-nose-off unconscious expression, or get hit by my sweat spray. "Was it crowded?" my wife teases after I've done a trail run. Meaning, "Did you see another soul?"

Most people, normal people, seem to like working out with others. They  want to show up, get mutual support, see others suffer, tell them that's normal and feel normal just saying it. 

Which makes my loner self a real trail runner. At its essence, trail running is a lonely act. Trails rarely let you run side by side. For long stretches, even if you're with a group, you're running alone. I don't even bring a music player. I revel in my introversion.

But once I'm done I get online and tell you about it. And I like to see what you've done. "Find workout buddies to motivate you!" Beachbody advertises on its site. Can you do that virtually? Yeah, probably. I'm experimenting with online groups to see how well that works. And I'm really getting into helping others from afar, hundreds of miles from where you can smell me.

This morning I got up at 4, did a 40-minute Insanity Power & Resistance workout, and ran up the mountain road in the dark. I saw one car. It wasn't very crowded.