Running is a Team Sport

A 'running team'

Photo by ianhun2009 on Flickr (click on image for original)

Many people think of running as an individual pursuit. However anybody who has toed a star line or joined a running group knows different. While we each may run and race for different reasons, and continue to strive for personal bests, running with others is one of the best ways to keep you motivated and get stronger.

The reason we race isn’t so much to beat  each other, but to be with each other.

—Christopher McDougall


running accountabilityViewing running as a team sport can hold you accountable to your training plan. It isn’t always easy to head out for a hill session, run in the dark after a long day at work, or forgo that extra beer (or two) on a Saturday night before a Sunday morning long run.

But knowing that your teammates will be waiting for you helps you get out the door. Running with others also helps on the run as well. They can help you stay on your target pace or encourage you to run the entire distance.


A running group at night

From “City Sports” blog.

On a more practical level, running as part of a team is safer. Runners new to the sport have a higher chance of being injured than in many other sports. Running as part of a group  provides a ‘human database’ that collectively has thousands of kilometres under their feet. Being able to talk with a team can give you  advice on how advice to overcome injuries, or avoid them in the first place!

Moreover, running with others, especially after dark, or on isolated trails makes you less likely to be a target of muggers or other predators who tend to attack people on their own.


My running friends and I at SeaWheeze 2012Running with a team also provides a built-in cheering squad. Members of running clubs and teams cheer each other on during races and support one another through long runs.

Best of Both

Running alone

Image from “Ramblings of Doug” blog.

In closing, I should mention that running with others isn’t an all or nothing choice. Rather running teams should be viewed as “no pressure” environments that add to a runner’s options.  They don’t have to replace your solo runs, but can give you an occasional alternative when you need that extra motivation or camaraderie.


Your Turn

Do you run with a group or team?  If so, what do you like best about it?  If not, why not?

About Yuri

I'm Yuri and I'm in a hurry to lose weight, get fit, and have fun doing it! This blog is a chronicle of a once fat guy's journey to fitness while training for a marathon—and beyond. You'll also find running-related gear review, links and inspiration.
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  2. I have run with a group and I like it but I also prefer to run by myself. The reasons you listed above are all great reasons to run with others but I’ve found that when I’m running long distances, half or full marathons, I am the only one who can quiet that little voice that tells me I cant go any further. Support is great but I find that ultimately, I depend mostly on myself to get me through.

    • I think balance is the key. You are right that mental strength is important, but for me, knowing that I’m part of a larger community, and even though I may be running alone during a race, there are others out there experiencing the same thing helps me get to the finish line.

  3. I ran with a group through my first two half marathons and my first full marathon. Unfortunately, now that I have a baby, I can’t make the running meet ups anymore, but we all keep in touch and motivate each other through text, FB, and phone calls. Joining a team as a new runner was hands down the best thing I ever did. I would have never kept with running if I hadn’t.

  4. Currently most of my runs are done solo only because we moved and I have yet to meet a running buddy. Before our move I would head out with a friend who topped out at 5-6k, we would chat throughout the run and I would drop her off at her house and continue on with my run. I miss it. And her 🙁

    • Anita, too bad your friend moved away (although now you can look for a ‘destination race’ in her new city 😉 ). I suggest checking out your local running stores and community centres, many have running groups that you could join, if for no other reason to meet a new running buddy. I met a few running friends through a clinic and we continued running together long after the clinic had ended

  5. I’d love to find a group. I’ve never been very good at running with anyone, but I think it would push me a little more.

    • Wendy, start by asking around at your local running store. If they don’t have a group themselves, chances are the staff will know about at least one. Another place to look is the ‘big’ running events in your community. Many events have training clinics leading up to race day that help runners get across the finish line for a variety of distance. If a clinic isn’t advertised, ask the event organizers if they know of any.

  6. I love running with a group … sometimes. I can’t stress the importance of liking most of the members & being on the same page etc. Recently I ran with a group and the experience drove me nuts! Everyone was running in a close pack. There was no room to breath or to put your hands out straight 🙂 Most were members of a training group so they were part of a strict program. I was a drop in runner. I usually run alone especially on longer distances. I was thrown for a loop when I had to make conversation so early in my run!

    • Crystal, find the right fit is important, and not always easy. Sometimes you have to ‘shop around’ abit. Other times, you just have to be patient—what can seem like an intimidating, or close knit, group can actually be quite welcoming if they see your commitment.

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