Running Tuesdays: Solo Running vs. Group Running

by Lorraine Kennimouth Williams

Should I go it alone or bring in the troops? This is a question asked by many runners when lacing up their running shoes in anticipation of their daily morning run – translation …. Should I run solo or run with the group?

This is a question I answered firmly for myself many years ago since running with the group is hands down my preferred method; for me it is a non-zero sum game or a win-win all of the time! Why is running in a group more attractive to me than “going it alone”? For many reasons, most of which I believe are psychological barriers … 

  • The group gives me new-found respect for “accountability” by getting me out of bed in the morning.
  • The group helps heighten my intestinal fortitude. I am less likely to exaggerate an ache or a pain and therefore less likely to stop. 
  • I become competitive when in a group; I don’t push myself anywhere near as much as I do when running with the group.   
  • The group speeds me up – I tend to run faster when running with the group. A baseline is set, and I feel the need to keep up with [at least] the slowest runner even if their pace is faster than my average. 
  • With the group, I find myself running in unfavorable elements and have done so on many occasion. If I am alone and the elements are unseemly, I will “bag it in” and go home.

But, more importantly that any of the above points, the comradery and compassion displayed by a group is unparalleled! Running buds look out for you; they are there for you; failing is not an option when they are around. They are that voice of affirmation that forever tells you how awesome you are and how you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. They are the guys who constantly remind you day after day that “It always seems impossible until it’s done”! They are the savior, the rock, the wings, the inspirational vehicle – wait a minute, something of great importance I may have forgot to mention …… I’m a “screaming extrovert”!!

Some people adore running alone – they do it for the very reason of taking a break from the chaos – they have been around people and telephones and emails and demanding children/spouses all day, and the last thing they want is to run with a bunch of chatty people! They look so forward to claiming that quiet space, the tranquility that a solo run offers …. They wouldn’t dream of spoiling it with a group. So, as we can see, it depends on what you are looking for and what works for you.  

Some points to adhere to whether you are a solo runner or a groupie –

  • Make your runs work for you. 
  • Many of us want to become faster runners, so have a goal and always keep it in mind. 
  • If you run with a group or a partner, they may not be progressing at the same rate as you. Make sure not to hold back because of this. Run your own race!

Depending on the mindset, some believe you can accelerate your progress by running alone. This is based on you being able to concentrate on breathing, stride and overall positioning and is probably very true for some. I, on the other hand, know for me and many like me the only way to become faster is to run with faster peeps. Some of us find it “easier” to accept the level of discomfort when in a group setting than when alone; we don’t have the grit to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone when alone.

So, next time you lace up, decide whether you’re going to “go it alone” or “rally the troops.”

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One thought on “Running Tuesdays: Solo Running vs. Group Running

  1. psychological barriers … move over!!!
    However much love to my running g buds, I’m lacing up and powering out for a solo run, I need to rid the voices in my head calling me to the couch and bog o bon bons…
    mmmmmwwwwwaaaaahhhhhhh to all my running peeps

    ….but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
    Isaiah 40:31 NIV

    Like

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