Loneliness and the Long Distance Runner

Does running have a downside?

1 to 20 of 36 messages
12/06/2014 at 19:44

I have been running and doing races for some years. No children and my wife and family have no interest in running. They even seem to have a life that excludes me. I have tried a Harriers club but it was very 'cliquey', the ladies and gents running separately each among their similar ability groups. The ability groups even meet socially (!) with little interaction. 

I have found myself in a very solitary situation doing something I really enjoy but have no real running friends. Sometimes I think things might improve if I stopped running but I find that running gives me some self esteem that otherwise I might not have and that is important to me.

Does any of this make any sense? Do any of you find that running has a downside? Is this what lies behind forum "socials"? 

12/06/2014 at 20:32

I don't know any runners in person, but I know lots of nice people on here, to be honest I think I prefer it that way, it's my thing nothing to do with my OH.  I think meeting people is scary. This works for me  

12/06/2014 at 20:32

Hiya SBS

Sorry to hear your running has put you in a position of feeling lonely.  That must be rough.  Will your wife come to races with you?  What if you made a day/ weekend of it, so you race, then do something 'couply' after?  That's what I do with my family.

I found a running club (long time ago) to be quite cliquey too, and more recently the local tri club.  My wife runs, but we rarely run together.  She never cycles or swims and I don't have anyone to do these things with either.  So... I do them on my own.  Embrace the solitude instead of seeing it as being alone.  You get to go where and when you want, at the speed you want, etc.

You could try other clubs- be prepared to drive a bit if necessary (I drive 30+ mins each way for a swim group because the local ones don't seem good enough).  

If you have friends outside of running, I wouldn't concern myself too much with finding running buddies TBH.



12/06/2014 at 21:43

I guess it depends on your attitudde to being alone-I love the fact that when I'm running ( excpet at races) I'm usually on my own, and can just think about things, listen to music if I want, or look at the scenery.

I rarely run with anyone except at races, and it's fine.

My OH isn't much interested, although he supports me by driving me to/ from events if I ask, but wanders off to birdwatch/ hill walk, and virtually never sees me finish- he times his return for after I've finished so we can go home.

I don't have a problems with this at all.............he has his own things he does, and it keeps us out of each other's hair some of the time.

Obviously if I wanted company, I'd join some sort of running group- unless you're in a very remote area, there must be different ones you could try. Facebook is a good source of nearby runnig groups if your local club doesn't fit the bill.

13/06/2014 at 06:44

I'd recommend trying parkrun if you have one close to you. Although they are only 5k in distance, they're really social events and you can meet lots of running friends through this.

Ours has been going for a couple of years now, and there is a huge range of runners covering a range of distances and times. I now regularly meet with a group on Sundays to cover longer distances, and the Facebook group gives the option of putting a general shout out if you fancy company during the week. I'd definitely try it if you can. 

13/06/2014 at 08:26

I agree with KK to an extent - maybe you need to see how you can socialise outside of running.

Maybe, too, if it's a solitary pursuit that has become too much of a focus for you, you do need to think about running less. Perhaps take up a team sport as an alternative to keep your fitness up?

I like running to be solitary - that's why I do it. But if I did it all the time I don't think it would be much fun for me or for my OH - and he runs too.

13/06/2014 at 09:24

Thats what puzzles me - I run alone, my wife has no interest in running or coming to any races I do. Any race I do, I put on the calender well in advance so she is aware and  do my training at times that suit family stuff, even going as far as being out of the door to do a 21 on Easter Sunday at 3:25am. All my training is done around 5am anyway so I am home in good time -  So why has your wife and family built a life that excludes you? perhaps that is what needs to be addressed

Edited: 13/06/2014 at 09:25
13/06/2014 at 11:37

"They even seem to have a life that excludes me"  -  is a little troubling, but I would ask how much training you're doing? 

Perhaps if you're out of the house for many hours a day, particularly at weekends, they have had no choice but to do their own thing?

13/06/2014 at 11:48

Off on a tangent, but I hear quite a lot that running clubs are cliquey.  Is this really the case?  If so, I think that's a real shame.

I don't consider my club to be cliquey, but maybe I just have a good club.  I've only been a member for a couple of years and I don't have experience of any other running club.  My club caters for all abilities (I'm most definitely a middle of the pack runner), organises 6 races a year where most club members marshall etc, organises "Club Trip", "Club Camp", "Summer BBQ", "Xmas do", where everyone (and families) are invited and are all very well attended.  Also, it has "away runs", birthday celebrations, trips abroad for races etc etc.  I think it's a thriving club as it has more members now than ever, but maybe I'm just lucky?  When looking at my "friends list" on Facebook, in real life I now interact more with my running mates than I do with my "non-running" mates.

I still do most of my running by myself, but that's because a) I also like running on my own and b) I can fit training in with other "stuff" more easily.

Edited: 13/06/2014 at 11:49
13/06/2014 at 11:56

Thanks for your suggestions. I am in my fifties. It is not only 'running buddies'. I do not seem to have friends outside of running either, that is why I thought about stopping running and socialising more! I only run about 30 miles a week and about 50 preparing for a marathon at most twice a year so it is not as if I run too much.

Before Boston (yes my wife went shopping) this year I was sitting on the grass in the athletes village waiting to be called to the corral. It was very crowded and this American girl maybe late twenties nestled in next to me - did I mind if she lay down? She rested her head on the grass and pulled her skip down. I said don't fall asleep or you will wake up and there will be nobody here! She found that hilarious, nearly choking, we talked for just a moment and  I was off. Then I hear her shouting over everyone, she is standing waving calling my name and wishing me good luck. She made me feel that I was the most important person to her. I felt she cared and it is a long time since I had that feeling.

Having lurked on the forum for a while I see those who seem to post several times a day everyday and think are they also missing something? Surely they are not doing that from a workplace and if posting from home they cannot be too busy there either. This is why I wondered about other forumites being lonely getting into needless virtual arguments and if the common theme was running.

13/06/2014 at 12:17

I don't know about anyone else but I am posting from a workplace. As long as you get your work done, nobody minds. I'm here while others will be on Facebook or elsewhere.

Running is a common theme, of course, that's why we all post on a runner's forum and this place has it's own personality (as others do). But I don't imagine there is a common theme in what goes on in peoples lives outside of the forum at all.

I think you're projecting some personal stuff here but you already know that.

Good luck in improving your situation - however you go about it.

13/06/2014 at 16:40

In the best possible way get yourself out and get a life, it's all there no big deal you don't need to be special just be you, I know hundreds of runners who I wouldn't call friends exactly but I am pleased to meet them when I do. They fuckin hate me though but that's because I have a giant bald head

13/06/2014 at 16:49

SunnyBlueSky, I felt so sad reading your post.  I too am at work and often I take the odd break to check out the latest running posts.  I type at 100wpm, so it doesn't take me long to reply either!    I would suggest for you to never give up something that you enjoy. You are obviously a fabulous runner and have achieved several marathons, that's something to be very proud of. You should post on here more often as people like you would be able to help lots of others.  I also think you do run quite a bit, but you have no kids, so what the heck, why not.   You're not alone when it comes to family support....my mother says if I ever talk about running again, it will be too soon and my husband just thinks I'm a fitness lunatic.  I've only ever ran one marathon but would run them every year, if I had the family support.  My situation is different from yours because of my children, but saying that, I do hit a wall of silence if I talk about my weekly training schedule at home.  This is what this forum is used for....us runners can chat all day about it!   I actually am not at all bothered that my husband is not into running....he looks after the kids, whilst I go out running, works perfect in my world!   I honestly think that from reading your last post, that you are using your running hobby as a scape-goat from what is the real problem.  If a complete stranger made you feel cared for and special, then it's your wife you should be talking to.  If you continue to stick on these forums, you will find that you are constantly being wished good luck and you will have copious amonts of support.  I also tried to join a running club and didn't like it.  I found that Runnersworld was all the coaching and support I needed.   I think it would be a shame if you cut back on what you are amazing at and I'm really sorry to hear that you are feeling lonely.  I hope you manage to work it all out.  Take care.

13/06/2014 at 18:03


You feel apart from your family. Perhaps take all out for a meal/drinks say each payday. You make time for them and they may return that time.

No way give up your running if you did that and things didn't improve you might have nothing. Running will help keep your stress levels down.

You may be experiencing delayed mid life crises. Not a joke. In your fifties you have had some reason to look up and look at your situation and believe that nobody is there for you. Some people make a new start is that in your mind, would you really and I mean really be able to do so if as you think you have no friends and may be set in your ways.

I suggest keep what you have at present. Look more positively at people you know and/or meet daily. See each as potential friends, can we talk over coffee, meet for lunch, (runner?) we could meet up for a run on...., fancy doing the local Parkrun. You feel alone so perhaps think as a 'single' and maybe even find a girlfriend!!

Good luck


13/06/2014 at 18:12

 I find it the opposite way, I used to always run on my own and enjoyed it but joined my local club to help put some strategy into my running when I was training for London marathon. I found I really enjoyed the company and it helped to pass the miles faster and now I find it harder to run on my own! I usually try and partner up with someone as it just seems harder on my own. My OH has no interest in running or my closest friends but I always get a well done from them after a good race. 

You are obviously a good runner and maybe should consider a club again, yes they can appear cliquey but stick in, introduce yourself and its amazing the chat you have running along and how much in common you have with some folk. Good luck.

13/06/2014 at 18:32
Martenkay wrote (see)


I suggest keep what you have at present. Look more positively at people you know and/or meet daily. See each as potential friends, can we talk over coffee, meet for lunch, (runner?) we could meet up for a run on...., fancy doing the local Parkrun. You feel alone so perhaps think as a 'single' and maybe even find a girlfriend!!

Good luck


I would absolutely not advise that!

In evaluating your running, you may well come to evaluate your life but that would not be the first step to changing it if it needs changing.

Edited: 13/06/2014 at 18:41
14/06/2014 at 12:23

Wow. Martenkay it is SBS not bsb but your suggestions are helpful in a way. I like the once a month and being positive with people. I think I am easy going but people do not notice me and I do not see them. You have made me remember British Masters runners and I think I will join because the ages will be older like me. Relationship wise I would not like to start again. Your joke about girlfriends I would not mind if anyone made friends even an American Indian but I think I have forgotten about the sexual side of things as I have got older and I think ladies like older men to forget sex.  


14/06/2014 at 19:13

Hi SBS ()

You might find that a visit to your GP would help. Feelings of being alone, no friends, family don't care and poor libido might indicate something else.

I don't know much about the British Masters except that they have events about the country. Do they have social meetings etc. Travelling about the UK would not get you friends locally unless there were many runners in your area travelling.

It seems your thread is losing interest maybe the TV football. Loneliness doesn't seem to be something forumites recognise or want to discuss.

Best wishes.

16/06/2014 at 10:32
Screamapillar wrote (see)
Martenkay wrote (see)

 You feel alone so perhaps think as a 'single' and maybe even find a girlfriend!!

Good luck

I would absolutely not advise that!

In evaluating your running, you may well come to evaluate your life but that would not be the first step to changing it if it needs changing.

Oh don't be an old misery, it sounds like a this person is suffering a crisis of confidence and needs some support, and after all a good shag and some fresh muff always lifts morale

16/06/2014 at 17:14

SBS that is quite sad, but that means things could get better.

Running can be a very social pursuit, but as bigeater implied, it helps to do some reaching out to people: that is, if you're shy, for an hour or two, think of someone you know (and respect) who is less so, and pretend to be them. See how it goes.

Anyhoo let me give you a rundown of my running week.
Tuesday: club run: lead couch-to-5k group OR escort a beginners' (c25k grads) group OR run round with my mates of similar speed and catch up on the gossip.
Once a month, join other club members for drinks and (free) chips post-run.

Wednesday: short run with a couple of friends who I started running with (met originally through work)

Thursday: social run with ex-beginners OR track session (both with lots of chat)
Saturday: parkrun: gossip with fellow parkrunners before, and for about an hour afterwards over coffee in a local caff. OR volunteer at same, gossip with fellow volunteers.

Sunday: long run on own OR long run with Weds friends OR race (gossip with clubmates and/or other folk I have met running) OR marshal/volunteer at race (gossip with fellow volunteers, say hi to runners)

Other day: perhaps go out for a run at lunchtime with a colleague who fancies some company for a run

So that shows what is possible with just emailing round a bit, putting a hand up to do stuff, and generally introducing oneself and making small talk. Some people I have got to know very well through running - others I just bump into every year or two!

Touching on more general stuff: I recently got a copy of Steve Peters' "The Chimp Paradox" which helped me get some useful, new perspectives on some workplace issues. It sounds like you might be thinking through a few things so take a look, you could find it helpful. It's pretty easy reading and breaks things down into digestible chunks.

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