By Abby Luedecke, Triathlon Coordinator at the Village DC Ranch
Running, for the most part, is a solo sport. Many of us run to clear the mind, relieve stress, and give us time for self-reflection. Who couldn’t use some “alone time” every day? However, after 15 years of running, I've come to realize the invaluable benefits of running with a group. It doesn’t have to be a big group, yours could be as few as two, but here are five good reasons why you should buddy up for your next run.
Imagine falling, twisting an ankle or getting light-headed while out on a solo run. If you’re with a group, there's someone there to help. And of course, there is safety in numbers – packs of runners are less likely to entice would-be attackers. Play it safe. Stick with a buddy (or two) each time you go running.
2. Motivation & Accountability
Running with others is a great motivator. Whether your running mates are faster or slower doesn't matter. Motivate each other. Work toward catching that runner who’s always a few seconds faster than your pace. Or pay it forward and help a slower runner train for their first 5k. In the end, you’ll have a competitive running partner who might start giving you the veritable “run for your money.”
It’s so easy to hit the snooze button, roll over and skip your run. But if you've got someone counting on you, you’re more likely to get up and at it – instead of missing your workout (and letting them down).
3. Fun, Friendship, & Community
Runners are a social bunch – we love to chat during long runs, in between sets and speed-workouts, or commiserate (with a smile) after summiting a big hill together, then head off to our post-run coffee hangouts.
At the Village Clubs we're all about fun, friendship, and building a community of healthy, happy people. Our group runs are a perfect example of all these elements coalescing. Once you've come a few times, you’ll most likely know everyone's name, what upcoming race they’re training for, how many kids they have, where they grew up, their occupation and maybe their pet’s name!
Whether you're new in town, new to running, or just new to running with a group, you’re sure to make lifelong friends. I know I did. From the moment I went on my first group run, I felt like I was part of a family. Many of those runners attended my wedding!
4. Improved Performance
Ever wondered why you're not getting faster, or your endurance has plateaued? One culprit could be your routine - solo runs at the same steady pace, not challenging yourself or changing things up. Group running can improve your performance – no two people have the same running pace, and inevitably there will be people faster than you in your group. Pushing yourself (in appropriate amounts) to increase your pace will inevitably improve your performance.
It's more fun when you've got someone there to keep you on track. Try picking up your pace for a mile, settling back in, then repeat. Mix it up a bit so your body doesn’t get into a rut. Learning from faster, seasoned runners will improve your performance. Listen up when they share their tips on rest and recovery.
5. Bust Boredom
Face it, running can get boring – and boredom leads to skipping runs. Some runners listen to music or books, solve complex problems in their heads, while some of us just zone out and run. If you’re feeling like you're hitting a fitness plateau, group running is the perfect anecdote.
For example, our Friday group run is a hilly course. The hills haven't changed, they're not any steeper or longer, but if I'm running by myself, they just seem harder. When I have a few others with me, and we’re chatting away, we all seem to get to the top in no time.
Even if you prefer not to talk while running, talk. Talk like that one woman who can run up the hill – chatting the whole way – while you struggle to catch your breath. Keep your mind focused on her, pushing your pace and getting to the top. Listening, learning, and conversing with others while running is an excellent way to make a six-mile hill run go by in no time flat.
If you still need convincing, give our group runs a try. Come see how you can integrate some camaraderie into your running schedule. The Village Clubs offer group runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings in the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley areas.
Contact Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.