I think the greatest gift a friend can give you is the courage to believe in yourself. To find inspiration within YOURSELF. We're not born with this. Many of us need to have someone else to impress, to be accountable to, because we just can't rely on ourselves.
I started running last August with the couch to 5k program. I was done by December, and by done I mean I quit. There were legitimate reasons, a baby who only napped 45 minutes, new school demands by the kindergartner, the crazies of a 2 year old. But really, I quit, because I wasn't enough to keep myself going.
Then my beyond-awesome friend started a running group for people just like me: moms who had never run before. I immediately said I couldn't do it. I started to run again on my own, but it wasn't the same. And then I woke up. I realized I could do it and that I needed to do it. At first a lot of it was that I wanted to be a part of this group, I wanted to be with these people. I wanted my happy runner friend to be proud of me.
On paper it looks like I haven't come that far. I've only run 3 races since then, all of them 5Ks. I'm not training for a half marathon. I'm not much faster (33:18 my first race, 29:40 my last). One of my friends commented the other night that I had been increasing my distance, and now that I did the 6 miles don't I think I can do twice that? I naturally scoffed. But I've been thinking a lot about it. A year ago I thought there was no way I could actually run 3 miles. Now? I *know* that with the training I could run a half-marathon. Or even a marathon. I *know* that if I wanted to do it, I could do it. I just don't want to. I don't have the hours to train, I try to balance my life with other things (reading, writing, those stinky kids). Sure, I'd like to do it with them, but that's not a reason to do it. Not the right reason. So, even though I'm not running as fast or as far, I think I've come a million miles from where I was last year. I'm not training for anything but I continue to run 3-4 times a week. And I'm doing it for me. I'm not running to fit in, I'm not running to make friends, I'm running for myself. And when it comes right down to it, whether you're running in a group or alone, you've got to be able to stand on your own two feet.
Like I said, the greatest gift someone can give you is the courage to believe in yourself. I am so tremendously grateful to my happy runner friend for giving it to me.