Running groups are huge at the moment.
In addition to the traditional running clubs and Parkrun, more and more casual groups are popping up all over the place – every park, every suburb, every time of day, women only, moms only, all inclusive, run for brunch, run for beer, you name it.
When I first started running 8 years ago, I tried to run with my husband a few times. I quickly found out that he prefers to run off fast, while I prefer to warm up slowly, I speed up at the end of my runs, he slows down. It never quite worked out well for either of us. Other than some bloggers’ event related runs, I’ve mostly run on my own ever since.
When I’m running alone I’m able to just focus on my own body – my energy levels and the state of my legs.
The latter mostly depends on how hard Crossfit has been that week. I just cannot sprint the fastest if I’ve done heavy back squats the day before.
Most of the time I have a plan for all my runs, but I often adapt on the day, depending on how I feel. Long runs I tend to run by feel at all times unless I’m following a marathon training plans. If I’m doing intervals or a tempo run I push myself as much as is my max on that particular day and I don’t have to worry about making someone wait or speeding off or having to explain why on some days my legs just don’t run as fast as on others.
I like doing my own thing and getting to know myself through running.
A little while before Christmas I did the England Athletics’ Leadership in Running Fitness course. I wanted to find out what running groups are all about and how to run one. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and can actually see how a track session with a group could be fun – a bit like Crossfit – you do the same kind of thing but at your own pace. Together, but separately.
Still I came away (ran, actually) not feeling like I HAD to join or start a running group immediately. Maybe because I have Crossfit as my social fitness thing but I just still think that for most runs it would be too complicated to all sync when it comes to pace.
Also, I like to run when I have time – I don’t like the idea of a set running time every week. I mean I sort of do, as it’s always Wednesday mornings, and then Saturday and Sunday at any time of the day, but I’m a true rebel and I don’t plan my running schedule to the degree of a specific time of day. I like to know roughly which are my running days but then go with how I feel or what other things are happening.
Yesterday I talked to a colleague of mine who’s also a solo runner. He said “You either run or you don’t. Why would you need somebody else to ‘make’ you run? If you want to run, you run.”
He’s totally a rebel like me. Lots of people aren’t though, lots of people don’t (by the design of their personality) have the self-motivation to run by themselves, and they like the fact that there is a set schedule to running groups.
Even though I personally don’t have any need to run in a pack on a regular basis, I think it’s awesome that more and more people are finding running through all these groups.
Whatever works for you and makes you happy is what you should do.
I don’t know though if there is a risk in being so completely motivation-dependent on a group that when the group run doesn’t happen for some reason, you don’t run at all. I’m hoping that the case is that people run alone as well as with a group and balance the fun they have with the group with some self-motivated solo runs.
What do you think? What’s your preference? Running alone or in a group?
*Maybe I just haven’t found my pack yet?