Occasionally I’d go running with my husband but “with” is sort of a gray area. Yes, we drove to the trailhead together, and yes, we did drive home together, but that middle part? The actual running? Not so much. Unless, of course, he needed a walk break, in which case he would briskly stride next to me while I chugged along. Yep, I’m that slow. My husband can walk faster than I run.
Okay, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get my point. When you’re a slow runner, you think that the power of the group is not within your grasp and reconcile yourself to running solo.
But this post isn’t about what it’s like to be a back-of-the-packer (I’ve written about that here), but rather why it’s worth it to find a partner or club to run with.
The benefits of running with other people are almost too numerous to mention, but I’ll do my best:
SAFETY FIRST: running with a virtual buddy (i.e. on the phone) is a definite no-no. Even if you’re using a hands-free device, you’ll still be distracted from what’s around you. Just like talking on the phone while you’re driving, you need your attention to be front and center so you don’t get hurt.
This is where a companion or group can really help. Running with someone that has a slightly faster pace than you (maybe 30 seconds or a minute per mile faster) can provide the extra motivation to push your limits – even if it’s for no other reason than you don’t want your ride home to leave without you.
Conversely, I know there are those of you that like to go hard on every single run. This can lead to injury. If this sounds like you, consider finding someone with a slower pace that will rein you in a bit. Believe it or not, running slower than your regular pace is actually hard work! This is also a great time to work on your form.
Most local running stores sponsor free weekly group runs at various experience and pace levels. Just be sure to ask questions about route, pacing, and leaders before you head out for your first workout – you don’t want to get left behind. If you can find one that has track workouts, this is a great option. You can run with the power of the group and still go at your own pace.
Meetup.com is an another awesome site to find local running clubs (and it’s free!). I did a quick search for running groups within 10 miles of my hometown and found 7 right away. Of course, if you can’t find one that meets your needs, Meetup is also a great way to start your own running club (although there is a fee involved if you are the group organizer).
If you’re training for a big race, many of the larger running events sponsor group training events for those that are registered. They’ll help you train for the big day and you might even find that you end up making some permanent running friends to run with after the race is over.
Jeff Galloway, creator of the Run-Walk-Run training method, also sponsors running groups around the US and Canada. These groups are designed for runners of absolutely all levels and generally have a more formal structure and leadership style than local clubs. There are fees involved, but, in return, you get access to a lot of great running knowledge.
And, of course, if you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, check out the Run Fit Running Club, led by our very own Steve Carmichael !
Photo Courtesy Of Damian Gadal