Three Ways to Stay Connected Through Social Fitness
Observing a military unit run is a powerful experience. One cannot help but feel the honor that illuminates the group as they rush past, proudly parading their unit colors and singing a rhythmic cadence. Without saying a word, they shout: Individually, we are capable. Together we are invincible.
As a military spouse and avid runner, this powerful concept resonates with me on many levels.
Over the past couple of decades, running has become an extremely popular form of exercise. According to Women’s Health magazine, a recent poll revealed that 13 million women choose to run regularly. With one million registered U.S. military spouses, I would venture to say we make up a large chunk of this statistic. I personally have been fortunate to bond with many women who love to run at every duty station where we’ve lived.
Three years ago, I completed my first half marathon alongside four of my best girlfriends. We were stationed together in Germany, which turned out to be a runner’s paradise. Weeks upon weeks, we trained in the rolling hills outside our villages. Combined, we covered copious amounts of German terrain which resulted in blistered feat, pulled hip flexors, and sprained ankles, none of which stopped us from crossing the finish line. When we finally reached our goal, we were exhausted but ecstatic. Just like our husbands participating in a unit run, we completed the race as individuals, but succeeded as a team.
Three years later, I’m still training but am now on American soil running alongside the Chattahoochee River. My girlfriends continue to run as well, but instead pound the pavement in areas like Texas, Arizona, and New York. Physically, we can no longer run together but mentally we continue to support and encourage each other through social fitness.
You may have noticed that technology has made fitness a social affair. Believe it or not, this is a blessing. As a military spouse who has been asked to move twice within a matter of six months, I know all too well the feeling of loneliness and isolation. With social fitness, I’ve been able to stay connected, meet new people, and explore new terrain. Here’s how:
Long runs or walks can be a great way to get out of the house and explore new places. I’ve committed to trying a new running trail every other day. Two of my favorites include :
- Trail running with my dog in the local parks
- Running the city river trail
Both usually end with an iced coffee at my favorite uptown hangout. I like to take my phone and snap a few photos to share online with friends and family. Sharing pictures of my local adventures has been a great way to stay connected.
Whether running in a group or on my own, I use the Nike+Running app to track miles and measure progress. The app syncs with my smartphone playlists and/or lets me listen to an up-beat Pandora mix that keeps me motivated for miles. The beauty of this software is that it’s virtual. I can track, share, and challenge friends from any geographic location which is great for providing support to both new and old friends. If you’re not a runner, this app is great for walking as well.
Running has helped me meet like-minded people in the area. A small group of us recently registered to run two local races. Some group members are seasoned runners. Others are not. To us, our level does not matter. Individually we are trying to improve our personal health and well-being, while working toward a common goal.
In addition to my running group, I’m also part of InDependent’s online health and fitness community. Here I connect virtually and in-person with a group of ladies interested in health and fitness. This site is designed specifically for military spouses.
By default, our service members work out as a unit. In doing so, they build a unique camaraderie that helps them succeed mentally and physically as individuals and as a group. I figure, why not implement this same philosophy into our own lives? Utilizing social fitness, I believe we can. Together we can motivate and support each other to be our best: Individually, we are capable. Together we are invincible.
Will you join me? Post a picture of your favorite place to work out on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using #IDsocialfitness.