Running is a social sport. Sure, there is a lot of freedom associated with running alone – but there are those who haven’t tried group runs are missing out on some major benefits.
Group Running allows for a far more social and supportive experience, and the opportunity to be a part of a community. This article will cover the need to knows and the benefits of group running as well as some basic etiquette to get athletes off on the right foot.
Why It’s Better to Run Together?
Before getting into the types of groups available and how to avoid any social faux pas – here is a look at some of the major benefits of group running.
There is safety in numbers. Groups are more visible to traffic and make more noise for wildlife. Having more than one head around can also be a lifesaver when it comes to navigation. If a group does happen to blunder and get lost – again numbers are key.
Should somebody have a fall or become injured in any way, being a group can mean the difference between a bad day and one that is life-changing or worse. Running in groups is a fun and engaging way for runners to stay safe while out there pushing their bodies or learning the sport.
It’s OK to admit it – not everybody is motivated to go out and run every day. It gets cold, it gets wet and it gets dark, making that sofa all the more alluring. Having a group to not let down really helps take the edge off of that temptation and get runners out there more consistently.
3) Push Performance
Humans are social creatures (some more than others) and are also naturally competitive – especially runners. When runners get together in a group, they tend to push themselves a little harder than if they were solo. That is not a bad thing, at all. Pushing the limits of performance through competition is a tried-and-true, ancient way to improve and in a group that ensures it remains fun it's a great way to run.
4) Shared Goals
Often, running groups will be training for the same type of event. It can be extremely beneficial to runners to train as a group for a marathon for example. Reaping the rewards of shared experience and knowledge is one of the main things that makes running in a group so great. Runners will learn drills and workouts they never heard of and get tips on their form and how to improve if need be – the possibilities are endless.
5) The Social Aspect
It never hurts to make a new friend – or a few for that matter. How much needs to be said about the benefits of friends and community? It’s life!
For those who are newer or struggle with feeling as though they are “pretending to be a runner” - running in a group is a fantastic way to alleviate the imposter syndrome that can come about in the early stages of a runner’s journey.
Choosing a Group to Run With
With all of these benefits in mind, the next logical question would be where does a runner sign up? Luckily, there is no shortage of groups or clubs and they mostly welcome beginners. It is helpful for runners to know what pace they are comfortable at or what their goals are.
Some clubs are more competitive than others and some are geared towards specific events, so research who is doing what in the area before signing up. It helps to remember that every single runner from every single club was a newcomer at some point. The running community is one of the most wonderful and supportive groups of people out there - so relax, and have some fun with it.
A Couple Do’s and Don’ts
It’s always a good idea to know some basic running etiquette before getting out there with a new group of people! Here are a few dos and don’ts so that runners can enjoy their time and not worry about inadvertently causing friction.
Be mindful of traffic. Try to leave space for pedestrians and cyclists when running. It’s a good idea to run two abreast as a rule of thumb. Make sure to cross busy roads at a crossing and always run towards the oncoming lane on country roads with no pavement.
Engage with fellow runners! One of the whole points of the run is to be social, share and engage with each other. For those people who have a hard time with small talk – ask about upcoming events, training regimes – anything related to running. This is the time and the place.
Stray from the pack. Running up ahead or lagging behind is distracting to the group and can also be dangerous for the solo runner. The whole point of group running is to run as a group, so stick with the pack. Many clubs will split into groups based on pace, so it helps to make sure that runners are in the right group to that end.
Plug into headphones. Listening to music can be a great way to focus and find a rhythm, but it is inappropriate for a group run. Leave the headphones at home. Running as a group is about enjoying and engaging with each other. It’s not only rude to tune people out, it takes much of the benefit out of the day.
Ready to Go
With all of this in mind, it is apparent that group running should really be a part of every athlete’s life. There is simply too much to be gained to pass it up! Get out there and have fun – together