Should you join a running group?
If you've never run with a group before, you don't know what you're missing. As a former loner runner (and one who scoffed at the thought of ever running with others), I can promise you it's worth a shot. Here's my top 10 reasons why I think you should give it a try...
- ACCOUNTABILITY This is the number one reason why runners in my groups keep coming back. There's nothing like knowing that other people are wondering where you are to make you stick to your running routine. It's the most effective motivator I've ever found.
- COACHING Unless you've had your running form analyzed on video, most people have no idea what they look like when they're running. As a running coach myself, I try to run behind different subgroups of our groups each day to look for little "inefficiencies". Although I sometimes have been known to recommend a complete form overhaul, more often than not I can provide easy-to-follow directions that make a BIG difference.
- YOU GET SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU GIVE Most runners who join a group do so to help them achieve their own personal goals. But what often ends up happening is that others in the group value your presence so much that you become an important part of their support network. And the feeling you get from knowing that you're helping others can often be much more rewarding than running a PR or getting a medal.
- "SHOP TALK" Only a runner can sit and talk for hours about shoes, socks, hydration, blisters, PRs, splits, etc without any regard for how their excitement might be boring others to tears. In a running group, that's not the case! You can sit around and talk about GU and chafing to your heart's content without anyone thinking you're neurotic or strange. :)
- FRIENDS Running friends are loyal. They motivate you when you don't feel like coming, they help you through the tough runs, and they "get" you. They can tell when you need a pep talk and when you need to be left to wallow in self-pity. They're your biggest cheerleaders and confidants. Many become friends for life, long after the race is over!
- KNOWLEDGE As a member of a running group, you'll never be at a loss for information. Think you're injured? Say the word and you'll have access to a wealth of knowledge and advice, courtesy of a whole bunch of people who have been there. Need advice on how to break your plateau? Same thing. Plus, running coaches are trained to help you, too, so you'll have more information than you'll probably ever need!
- TIME FLIES WHEN YOU'RE HAVING FUN Although it can sometimes take time to get used to the "chatter" (especially if you're a former loner, like me), it often turns out to be just what your brain needs to get over the monotony of a long or hard run. Whether you're just listening or you're doing the talking yourself, it makes the time fly by! Bonus: if you talk while you run, your cardiovascular strength improves faster! :)
- INSPIRATION Being part of a group offers inspiration that loner runners sometimes struggle to find on their own. Often just watching someone achieve a goal they've worked so hard for or hearing about how someone else broke out of a rut gives you all the inspiration you need to stay on track.
- GOODBYE STRESS! Running is already one of the best ways to destress, but doing so with a group is even better. You can spill your guts to the group and, unlike doing so with a bartender, hairdresser, or therapist, you're simultaneously gaining mental AND physical strength!
- VICTORY IS EVEN SWEETER WHEN YOU SHARE IT WITH OTHERS Finishing a race is always sweet, but celebrating it with the people you've shared so many miles with is even sweeter. Everyone knows how hard everyone else has worked to get there and the bonds that are forged in those moments are unbreakable.
I could go on and on about the perks of joining a running group, but I don't want to hold you back any longer. Get out there and find yourself a group! You'll be so glad you did. :)