The benefits of running with a group
On most of my expeditions I’ve been ‘Mr. Motivator.’ Motivating ends up overtaking everything else and it’s the part that exhausts me the most. While the logistics, media, cooking, and mapping are all important; keeping the people you’re with motivated is the only thing that’s really going to get them to the end. Check out these benefits of having a running buddy or group and how to find a local running club to start team running regularly.
1. Having a training or running buddy can be a real motivator
During ultra-marathons, long training runs or multi-day adventures, mental and physical strength diminish dramatically. It becomes a struggle to keep positive, enthusiastic and focused. Surprisingly, the closer the finish line, the tougher it gets. Days before Sean Conway became the first man ever to swim the length of Britain, we thought we weren’t going to make it. It wasn’t until we were swimming, kayaking and sailing through the harbor walls of John O’Groats that we realized we had done it. And it would have been even more difficult without the support and motivation of the entire team.
The same applies for all sports. Finding a running buddy to train and race with improves motivation. It holds you accountable. It can get you out of bed on a rainy day. It makes you push through a few more reps, laps or miles. It makes you go to boot camp in the dark because you promised your friend. The minute you are in partnership with someone it becomes a lot harder to miss that workout. A running partner can help with training dramatically because you pick each other up when the other is feeling negative. Whether you’re both racing toward a goal or you’re there as a support team member, your job as a motivator isn’t finished until every member of your team that’s running, biking or swimming is across the finish line.
2. Running clubs are a great way to meet new friends
If you don’t have an obvious running partner to join you in the madness, signing up to a running club or group training session can be really helpful. Here you can meet like-minded people who can help with training and advice as well as support. You might even find a running buddy to do events with. If you’re new to the game, it’s especially nice to have someone to train with, travel with, prepare with, run with and celebrate with. You can bore each other about the latest gear, energy bars, aches and pains; and give your long-supporting family and friends a break.
While teaming up can help training, preparation and racing in so many ways, be careful. On my first half marathon, my running partner dropped out on the morning of. I was distraught. I had prepared to run the whole thing with her. And suddenly I was lining up on my own with a giant breast on my back (for CoppaFeel!, a breast cancer awareness charity). While team running can be extremely beneficial, make sure you are able to cope on your own and don’t turn into a wreck without them.
Also, when choosing a running partner or running club, make sure you race in a similar way. You don’t want to be waiting around or holding them up. Find out what events people in your running group are doing, how long the training runs are and if they’re road or trail runs, then partner up with someone doing the events, pace and distance you’re used to or want to reach. It’s important to answer these questions before the race day. Like a relationship, you need to make sure you and your running buddy work well together. And if you do, it can be a really great starting point into the world of racing. Just avoid a dramatic breakup mid race. Running club could get awkward.
3. Running partners help stop you from being stupid
Having a running buddy helps you push yourself, but it can also help you from pushing yourself too far. Whether you’re buddying up for a race or just training together, you and your running partner will get to know each other’s limits and signs of struggle. He or she can help you stay on pace if you’re tempted to go hard early as well as plow through low-energy sections. Your running buddy can also help by knowing when it’s time to quit or change your goal. If you’re working toward something, it’s unlikely you’re going to be ready to defeat, and you’re going to do whatever you can to avoid the DNF . But when you have a running partner, he or she can rein you in if it means avoiding serious injury. Plus it can be safer to have a running buddy along if your exploring a new, challenging or remote trail.
I was always a lone ranger when it came to training and racing. I used to plug in my music and do everything on my own. In my case, I found myself too competitive when I ran with other people, so I would push myself too soon and too fast and end up wanting to walk three-quarters of the way through. Idiot. Having someone to run with can bring serious support. You’ll likely hit ‘the wall’ at different times and can help each other through. You have someone that understands what you are going through and that is key to preventing injuries, avoiding DNFs and setting some new records.
What do you think? Do you enjoy team running or striking out on your own? Do you prefer some combination of both? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re curious how you can get involved in a running club or group in your area, stop by your local running shoe store or try meetup.com. And partnering up doesn’t have to be just for running groups – you may be able to find people who want to bike, swim or hike together too!