Are you a lone wolf or do you like to be part of a pack? We’re digging into why you might want to do either and what it can do for your running.
Benefits of Running Alone
Your “Race,” Your Pace
You all have those days as part of your workouts or training when you need to up your tempo just as much as there are days when you should just run easy – let yourself recover and keep your risk of injuries at bay. Those easy days are one of the best arguments for running alone. When you run with a group, you will try to keep up (always competing are ya?) – and, if the pace isn’t just right, then you may risk injury, or at least you’re going to tire yourself out. So, on those easier days, think about skipping the group run, and head out on your own, do your thing, listen to your body and take it easy. Run and smell the flowers.
Meditation & Peace
Do you ever just need some “me time?” (Right here!) Running alone is a perfect time for that! Skip the earbuds and just head out for a run with your thoughts. Or zen out with your favorites tunes. Either way, sometimes you need that alone time to work through a business issue, reflect on relationships, or maybe it’s time to think about nothing and clear your mind. We are fans of getting out for a run on a trail or in a park and just listening to what’s around us or under us – our feet padding the ground. Ahhhh.
Time to Focus
Are you in the middle of training for a big race? Maybe it’s time to get serious and really focus on your workout. Group runs can help to make workouts more bearable (we’ll talk about that below), but sometimes the chit-chat isn’t what you need – just run alone focus on your workout or your form & breathing. You may get the most out of your run without any distractions.
Benefits of Running with a Group
Coaches always say that when running your easy pace, you should be able to carry on a conversation. Long runs are such an important part of marathon and half marathon training — if you are lucky enough to have a running group with people of your same ability, a long run with friends is a great way to make sure you don’t run too fast. Just keep running and talking! The time and the miles will go by quickly and you know that you aren’t running too fast if you can still carry on the conversation.
Some of my fondest memories are going for runs with my college cross country teammates. There was always lots of joking and telling stories while the miles passed below our feet.
Just be sure that you aren’t over-doing it. If you are trying to keep up with runners faster than you and running too fast, you will risk injury or you may just be too tired to follow your workout routine the rest of the week. And in that case, what’s the point?
Do you run very early in the morning or at night? Running with a group or a partner is a great way to feel safer. It’s a sad reality that we runners (especially women runners) need to think about safety and harassment. Be safe, plus get all the other benefits of running with a group!
Run Faster Together
On a dark morning, the bed is so comfy… If you have a group waiting for you, that accountability is sometimes just what you need to force you out of bed and into the running shoes. And, once you are out there, it really does feel so good! You won’t regret leaving your warm bed (most of the time).
There’s also something about running with others that lets us push just a little bit harder. If I’m running alone, it’s too easy to just skip that last “rep” on the intervals. So, running with others is great for those hard workouts. There’s the encouragement from your cheering friends and a little friendly competition to get that extra push.
Reach Your Goals
There’s a time and place for group runs and for running alone. Plan ahead, check in with yourself and see what suits you (mentally and training wise) and each type of run can help you reach your marathon or half marathon goals!