For many runners, the tendency to follow the same routine day in and day out is strong. We have the same routes, same workouts, same paces and same races that we like to run on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. We also have preferences for whether we run alone or with friends, and rarely reevaluate these decisions. However, there are advantages to adding variety to your routine and the benefits of running alone versus with others should be weighed, especially if you’re looking for gains in performance.
Many runners choose to run by themselves because they use running as an escape or simply wish to unplug from the world around them with as few distractions as possible. There are many advantages of this approach:
Some runners do not excel in a group environment because they have a difficult time focusing on themselves, instead of others. When alone, there is no one to compare yourself to; no one to push you too hard during practice and no one to distract you from your thoughts. These are especially important considerations when returning from injury, as running in a group can often cause a runner to push him or herself through pain and slow down the healing process.
Sometimes, running alone is simply what we crave. Everyone has days where we need time to get lost in our thoughts or be one with nature. When we feel like the world is resting on our shoulders, having a running partner talk idly about his or her day can be less than welcome.
When running alone we only have to answer to ourselves. Want to watch another episode on Netflix before heading out the door? No problem! Have a job with an unpredictable schedule that makes running at routine times difficult? Running alone avoids the hassle of having to find a time that works for everyone.
Nothing is more frustrating than getting into the middle of a run with a good pace, but feeling guilty about dropping your running partner. On the flip side, when you aren’t feeling great but your running partner keeps picking up the pace, it can be difficult to admit to needing to slow down. Running alone helps you avoid these situations.
Running in a Group
Now that the advantages of running solo have been discussed, what about the benefits of running in a group?
Running alone, especially at night or on trails, can be dangerous. A number of incidents can occur, such as getting hit by a car, being physically assaulted, getting attacked by an animal, or suffering an injury and becoming stranded. Running in a group not only minimizes the chance of these occurrences, but can prevent them altogether.
Runners are a unique bunch of people who can easily be misunderstood. Running in groups is a great way to build a social network and can lead to interesting business relationships, as well.
Unless you truly dislike socializing with other people, running in a group is the best way to have fun while engaging in an activity that you enjoy. Goofy antics, deep conversations or simply having others to draft off of can make a 20 mile run go by fast.
Improvements in Performance
Ever wonder why many elite runners train in groups? The best results often come when we have others to push ourselves to be our best.