It’s easy to conclude that running is a solo sport until a large event like the ING NYC Marathon — which had more than 50,700 people at the starting line last weekend — rolls into town. That’s a lot of runners in one spot!
For someone who lives a bit out of reach from friends who would actually run with them on a daily basis, I’ve come to accept my status as that lone runner in the neighborhood. I’ve even talked myself into believing that running alone is better than running in groups so I won’t feel bad when I step out the door. Deep inside, though, I know that solo running and group running both have their benefits, and changing it up every once in a while will keep your workout fresh.
Since I’m usually a loner, I look forward to my “group run time” at local races. It teaches me how to pace myself, push myself and, yes, even compete with others.
"Being set in an introverted or extroverted running pattern can limit your experiences and prevent you from growing as a runner," Michelle Maidenberg, a psychotherapist who works with athletes, told Runner's World.
Just like any other workout buddy, a running group holds you accountable, keeps you motivated and challenges you in new ways.
"You learn more about how other people train and what they're doing, and it can inspire you to do something different," Cindra Kamphoff, a sports psychology consultant at Your Runner's Edge, told Runner's World. "It can open up your mind to trying new distances, races or types of workouts."
If you’re new to running and are feeling a bit intimidated running in a group, grab a friend or two. Once you’re comfortable with them, you all can join the group together. As for me, I’ll be checking out my local running club. Chances are there’s one in your area, too. Search via Google, visit Road Runners Club of America or Meetup.com and mix up that run today!