Many people training for a race will spend a lot of time running on their own. Some people even prefer this. In truth, running with a group isn't for everyone, especially those who would rather not have distractions so they can focus on form and speed.
That said, if you're used to running alone, you might not realize the many benefits you could gain by joining a running group. Running with friends recreationally may be more for socialization than performance, but when you run with a dedicated group, you could actually see improvement. Here are just a few ways in which group runs could boost your performance.
When you're tired and sore and your race is still weeks away, you might be tempted to hit the snooze button and put off training until tomorrow or the next day. Running with a group can provide a measure of social accountability that motivates you, or alternately, the support and encouragement you need to carry on.
When you're training for weeks or months, it's all too easy to fall off the wagon and let your progress wane. If you need some help with motivation, having a group of like-minded runners to cheer you on (or kick your butt) can definitely give you a push.
Many runners like to go at their own pace, and you might worry that running with others will slow you down. What is more likely is that a healthy dose of competition will actually spur you to push harder and improve.
Even if it turns out you're the fastest runner in the group, you can still set the pace, and when your running partners improve in response, you may want to put on some speed to stay at the head of the pack. This dynamic can ensure that every member of the group sees improvement over time.
When you're pushing harder, running farther, and picking up speed, you have the opportunity to boost your cardiopulmonary function as a result. Even better, you might be splitting your energies between running and chatting with fellow runners, developing better breath control along the way.
Running alone gives you plenty of time to focus on your own performance. So much time. In fact, it can get pretty boring after a while, especially if you're packing in dozens of miles each week in preparation for a long race.
You can also get tired of running the same old routes, day in and day out. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and switching up your running routine can help you to combat boredom and make the time go faster when you're training.
Running with a group gives you the opportunity to converse with other athletes, whether you discuss your performance and how to improve, you share personal information about your daily lives, or you talk about current events. In addition, other members of your group probably have their preferred running trails that they can introduce you to in order to vary location and terrain.
If your tired, old routine is making it hard to motivate yourself to run, you've hit a plateau, or you've even started to backslide, one of the best ways to alleviate boredom and see progress again is by joining a running group.
When you run on your own, you can't exactly keep an eye on your form. Your running partners may be able to give you tips to improve your technique or work on problem areas, and you can do the same for them.
The shared knowledge and experience of a group of runners will almost certainly surpass your own, and this can only help you to improve. You can also swap tips about nutrition, running gear, and every other aspect of preparing for races and improving performance. With a little help from your friends, you're sure to reach your peak.
When you choose a running group that has goals similar to your own, you can work together to create a plan that helps everyone to improve as they train for upcoming races. You can even sign up for the same races so everyone is motivated to stay on track and you can all push each other by competing during events.