Combining the solitary with the social

Hasan Patel has been a huge champion and supporter of the Green Heart Runners, a great support to me personally, and has become a good friend. Hasan writes about his experiences of running and how he gets benefits from solitary running in a social setting.

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I have always enjoyed the solitary side of sport.

That is why I enjoyed playing cricket: apart from the odd bowling spell, I could spend hours on the field in my little world. It’s why I enjoyed playing in goal, out of choice, rather than being the last person chosen on the football team.

So running was a natural fit for me (as well as being told I have high cholesterol and was overweight), as an activity I could enjoy on my own with my thoughts, fears, and “what if” moments.

When I moved back to the UK last year, I continued my solitary running and signed up for the Birmingham Half Marathon. Coincidentally, I fell upon a notice for the Green Heart Runners. My solitary runner had never been one for a club, but I needed some structure and stability in my running timetable and training.

So I gave the Green Heart Runners a go.

Initially it was a small group under the stewardship of Robbie Roberts and later also with Jess Harrington. Every Tuesday evening, rain or shine, I and like-minded runners could learn from them. The group grew, and we kept learning. You’ll find me in the middle with the pack.

Running has become a getaway from the everyday stresses of life. It helps me focus, it gives my mind a break, and with my headphones, the odd podcast or bespoke music puts me in my little world.

Now I am part of a group of runners who are a community inspiring and helping each other. We don’t run to enter scores of marathons. We don’t put a priority on time over distance. We just go out there .

I want to run with no goal in mind — all else is secondary. So with the Green Heart Runners, I get my solitary world with self-awareness, focus, and a sense of being productive. But I am also part of a group, who give me that extra push to continue if that world becomes a challenge.

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