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