Running Groups: For or Against?
I have realized during my years of running that there are two distinct types of runners — those who enjoy running with others, and those who choose to go solo. I've been back and forth on this topic. There is a part of me that thrives on disconnecting myself and getting away from others. However, there's also a side that finds it rewarding and motivating to hit the road for a long run with a group of people.
If you're not sure whether you're a Solo Runner or Group Runner, or want to try seeing how the other half runs, here are some things to think about in each group:
A Running Group Is Probably Right For You If...
1) You like to talk and run. Some runners enjoy using their time out on the road to socialize and chat. Many group runners invite a social atmosphere where running and talking is encouraged, and it does tend to make the time (and the miles) pass faster. Even if you're not up for a conversation while running (or can't run and talk easily at the same time), many find the camaraderie welcome.
2) You lack motivation to push yourself. Most group runs have different pace groups, which is fantastic for those runners who are looking to improve on their training and hit more aggressive time goals. By selecting a faster pace group you can help push yourself to better results.
3) You are new to a city and are single. I've heard many stories of freshly relocated runners not only hooking up with a running group but finding someone special. If you want to meet like-minded singles, scope out a local running group or more specifically one that caters to single and socially active runners. Group running may be safer for single women, especially if you prefer to run in the evenings or very early in the morning.
4) You are scared to train at the track. Many running groups have set workouts during the week with one day devoted to a track workout. It can be intimidating going to the track for speed workouts on your own, but being in a group ensures that you'll have a specific, monitored training session.
5) You are competitive. Finding a running group that participates in local races that are scored is a sure way to be part of competitive team setting. Here you can not only set reachable goals, but you can also compete against the local rival running group. It is a win/win.
A Running Group Is Probably Not For You If...
1) You simply don't like running in packs. We all run in packs on race day, but some runners feel too stressed trying to keep up with a pack and running together. Most running groups will go out together and stick together throughout a run. If you have a fear of close running or find there is a pressure to keep up, you should stick to running solo.
2) You like to keep your own schedule. Most runners will stick to a specific timetable and if it has worked will continue to use it in future races. If you are a creature of habit then running on your own may be your best bet; running groups mix in different routines at different times of the day, which is really meant to help runners of all levels.
3) You can't stop racing. Some runners cannot accept that they are on a training run and they do not have to beat every person. If you get angry and frustrated by faster runners passing you during training runs, then stay far away from a running group.
4) You don't like wearing a singlet (or have some other personal preference). A former group runners told me, "The reason I stopped running with a local club was because they made me wear a singlet at team events; I hate singlets!" Enough said.
5) You are a guy and don't like it when a woman beat you. Here's a heads-up for men: You will get road-killed by women in a running group. This could be the reason that women love running groups.
What are your thoughts about running groups: are you for or against them? If you're part of one, what do you love about it? If you're a committed solo runner, why would you never join a running group?
— Scott Miles, Running Report
Scott Miles blogs at iRunnerBlog.com and is co-founder of #RunChat, a twice-monthly Twitter chat for runners. He has completed multiple races, from marathons to 5ks. When Scott isn't running or blogging about it, he is a sales executive, a supportive husband, a Mets fan, and enjoys everything that the New York City area has to offer.