Group Running vs. Solo Running

Would you rather run by yourself or with others?

For me, running has always been an individual sport. It’s my escape. No matter how stressed out I am, or how upsetting life becomes, when I put on the iPod, and start running, somewhere along the route, the problems seem to dissolve. The hurt or anger feels less intense. By the last mile, I find myself singing along to the music. Running is the escape from others, the hideout and the healing.

A second benefit to solo running, is keeping my own pace.  When I run with others, I feel the need to keep up with them – sometimes I push too hard too early and have nothing left. Forced to take a breather, I end up farther behind than if I just ran slow and steady. Running alone allows me to speed up when I can and slow down when I’m fatigued.

So why then, would I want to invite other people into my alone time?

I tested the idea of group training by joining a running group this week and simultaneously liked and disliked the experience.

The benefits:

  • Meet new people – socializing is always great!
  • The motivation – During the second mile when I normally would start walking, I pushed myself to keep running.
  • Learn new techniques – runners love to talk about running, and opening your circle allows you to immediately hear new perspectives on the sport.

The negatives:

  • Pressure to keep up – I felt a little silly that I was at the back of a pack full of excellent runners.
  • The escape was gone – When surrounded by a group, the individualistic part of running that I love slipped away.

The compromise:

The next three months are about pushing myself in uncomfortable ways so I can achieve the goal of completing my distance run. I think that a mix of group training with solo training is the best combination for my long-term training. The group runs will give me the push to keep going when I want to quit; my solo runs will continue to be my escape. I plan to capitalize on both, and reap the benefits of both. The negatives will fade away as they are not as important – they aren’t pushing me towards my goal!

If you think you would benefit from running with a group here are a few different ways to get involved:

Road Runners:

MeetUp Groups:

Cool Running:

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About the13thmile

I am proud to now say I am a half-marathon runner! Three half-marathons qualify for that status, I think. I blog about about running, nutrition and sometimes some other stuff. I share my research, tips and experiences with you, and am inspired by the supportive running community! I enjoy connecting with other runners, and hearing about other people's running experiences. Feel free to reach out if you have ran marathons or half marathons in the past!
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7 Responses to Group Running vs. Solo Running

  1. Just found your blog after coming across your Twitter feed, and wanted to wish you the best on your training, and your journey toward running your first half! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing experience at your first race — good luck with everything.

    Terrell Johnson

  2. Shafiq Khan says:

    I’ve been running for about 6 years now.
    It wasnt until the 3rd year till I decided to join a running club and I agree it’s great to socialise with other runners especially when talking about running techniques etc.

    I run about 4 to 5 times a week, but I only meet up with the club once maybe twice a week just for a quick catchup. My point? – I still prefer running on my own because as your post suggests, it’s an individual sport. Only you know your strengths and weaknesses and learn/adapt from them.


    • the13thmile says:

      Great commentary, Shafiq, it’s great to hear what works for you, and good to hear that you mix it up too!

      • Shafiq Khan says:

        No Problem…. Hope you achieve your goal.
        You’re entering into a great journey. After half marathon’s you’ll defo be wanting to checkout full marathons.

        Trust me… I’ve been there (-:

  3. Crestina says:

    Hi 13thmile, I’m glad to chance upon your blog. I couldn’t agree more with this post. Though I have yet to join a group run still, I would rather run solo.

    Keep running. 🙂

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