I had never thought of myself as a runner until I could no longer run. I only took it up in middle age and, let's just say I was never built for speed. The running itself was boring interspersed with exhausting and a little painful at times when I was forced to push muyself. But I ran with a running club, initially because it had a 'learn to run' program and thus provided me with community.
Working at home, there have been days when I haven't left the house or said one word out loud. I get a lot done this way, but I don't get that social interaction that I wanted and needed. Running a few times with a group was a perfect way to get it. I would ask a question of someone and get a chance to listen to them talk, ramble even as a distraction from the strenuous tediousness of running.
Then I got injured. Or what I thought was injured, but really it was my scoliosis starting to protest against the impact of bobbling along on hard surfaces. As soon as I found out that was the source of the pain and had to come to terms with having a 'condition' or 'disability', I admit sheepishly that my reaction was not unlike that of those suffering real grief or loss. What? No way! Not me. I've always been able to do whatever I wanted physically (even if I didn't do it particularly well!)
So I lost my sport and thus lost my community, which was the largest stalk of straw on my lumpy camels back and I tipped over into depression. Running buddies, just like golfing buddies or bird watching buddies or basketball buddies, are an activity-specific relationship and when you lose the activity you lose the relationship.
But feeling part of a social network is imperative. For me, I decided to find walking buddies, and I started to take yoga classes, and I decided I wanted to get back to something I loved but stopped doing many years ago: singing. I found a choir that suited me (http://www.ensemble-etoile.com/ - new CD available for purchase!) and started to take private singing lessons through the local community centre, which also had a fitness room I went to once a week. Dancing was my first and lasting passion, but it hurt a bit too much to do most of the form of swing dancing I did (Ceroc: never heard of it? Try it! http://www.ceroc.ca/) , but I went on occasion and danced when I could and then hung out and talked to the others and watched the great dancing. Martin had a running group that suited him, and I met them for coffee sometimes, or at their prolific social events.
I was immature enough to still feel the need to compete and be part of an event. I regreted not having run a race as fast as I could; the few half marathons I ran was always with others at their pace, because it suited me more to have someone to run with than to run that bit faster. I found a 5km race, a distance I could walk without too much pain. Martin's group was keen to do it too, and it was such a good feeling to feel as valid a participant as the fastest runner of the group. And I pushed myself as far as possible physically, which hurt a bit, but it felt great!