Running alone is pretty common for many runners. New runners often feel too intimidated to run with a group, while many other runners get into their own routine and run alone out of convenience. Some runners prefer to run alone because they think they will be “too slow” to run with a group, while some believe that running with a group will interfere with specific paces they are trying to hit. Yes, it’s often more convenient to run alone, whether it’s for scheduling reasons or pacing reasons. There are many benefits to going outside of our comfort or convenience zone to run with a group, however. Consider some of the benefits for running with a group and challenge yourself to get out there if you usually run alone!
Some benefits of running with a group include:
Accountability – When you know people are waiting for you, it holds you accountable to actually showing up. This is especially helpful in the cold winter months. It will likely take a few times of attending the group run to feel that accountability to people, but once you make connections to others in the group, they will expect you to be there.
Community – Whether it’s 3 miles or 13 miles, there is a lot you can talk about on a run. Running brings people together in ways that other activities don’t, and you will likely have more in common than just running. You’ll meet new people with whom you can travel to races, grab a drink for happy hour, or simply vent about the stresses of the week. However close you become with others in the group, you will expand the size and diversity of your running community.
Running a different pace – Running with a group can both push you to go faster than you would by yourself and/or help you to slow down to ensure you’re getting in those slower miles. Most running groups have a wide variety of paces, so depending on how you’re feeling or where you are in your training plan, you can choose to kick it up a notch or back it off. Either way, you’ll be likely run a different pace than if you were running alone.
Learning new stuff – “Stuff” is a pretty general term, but it’s true that you’ll learn all sorts of new information when you’re running with people! From the inside scoop about that race you were wondering about to the best tasting GU to the best trails to run for long runs, you’ll have a bunch of other runners to exchange information with – not only about running, but all sorts of other “stuff.”
Again, running with a new group can be intimidating, but it’s well worth your while to give it a try! There are a lot of different groups out there, so try a few to see which is the best fit for you. Pacers has group runs out of all of its stores, so that’s a great place to start! A few others to check out include District Running Collective and November Project – both are free and have a diverse group of attendees. If you want a group that is coached and training for more specific races, check out TW Training and Wellness.
Tammy Whyte is the owner and head coach at TW Training and Wellness and is both a certified personal trainer (NASM) and certified running coach (RRCA). She offers group training programs in DC and individualized run coaching for runners throughout the country. DC winter training programs are currently open for registration, and all programs have a strong focus on building community among the group. If you’re training for a spring race, check her out at www.twtrainingwellness.com. Feel free to reach out with questions at [email protected]