Training With a Group vs. Solo

Last weekend I did my longest run since October 2012. It just so happened that it was also a solo 17 miles. Josh had the opportunity to participate in the Tour de Tonka cycling event on Saturday so I happily delayed my long run to Sunday. Unfortunately for me, this meant I missed the weekend group run. I tried to recruit a running buddy, but was unable to do so. Not letting that deter me, I was up at 4 am Sunday morning getting ready.

The sun was just cresting the horizon line when I got out of my car, turned on my Garmin and started down the trail. I decided to run at Elm Creek Reserve even though I was alone, mainly because of the bathrooms (I’ve been having some serious GI issues – but that’s for another time) and the fact that I felt safe running there alone, even when it was dark. During the run when I wasn’t startling wildlife, I started reflect on training alone vs. training with a group.

What I like best about training solo:

1. I can start and finish my run any time I want. This morning I was running before 6 am, so times it’s after 9 pm.

2. I dictate the pace. Sometimes I’m dragging ass and other days I feel like I’m flying. Without having someone else to consider, I can do whatever you want. This is both good and bad for the longer runs.

3. No one to witness embarrassing moments. Gel make you vomit, have to pee in the bushes, no shame, no witness.

4. I have to learn to depend on myself to get through. Other than my first marathon, I’ve never had a running buddy for an entire race. It meant  I had to be used to motivating myself to continue through your exhaustion. I found it really hard to get through my 2nd marathon myself after training with a partner. The last marathon I trained solo and wasn’t used to having someone to chat with which I think was actually beneficial.

What I enjoy about training with a group:

1. Company when running for hours on end. There is only so many times I can hear the same songs or listen to a book when I’m running before I start to get irritated. I’d much rather have someone to talk to. It really helps the miles fly by.

2. Accountability. It’s much easier to get out of bed at an ungodly early hour on the weekend when I know people are waiting for me. They won’t judge me when I have drool crusted to my cheek, or mismatched socks. They’re just happy that I showed and hopefully remembered deodorant in both armpits.

3. You might just learn something new. Running is thought of as a cheap, no frills sport, not so my friends. Well, at least not if you’re doing endurance runs. There’s a lot more to it than a good pair of shoes. From nutritional supplements to new recovery gears, there’s not better advertising or sales person than your fellow runners. I’ve learned so much from other runners.

4. They challenge you. Run faster, run longer, run a new event or try a new type of cross-training, they do it all.

There are days that I love training by myself. I trained for my last marathon by myself and successfully completed the race. This time around I’m so thankful for a group to train with. My 17 miles were great on Sunday. I felt strong and fast. It provided a bit of reassurance that my goal of running a sub-4 hour marathon isn’t a total fantasy. My average pace was 8:41, even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile average for the last 9 miles, I’d still finished about 3:57:XX. Of course anything can happen on race day, but I’m feeling so much more confident. I really missed my fellow mother runners though.

Looking for a new group? Here’s a few resources I used to find my group.

Moms Run This Town –
MeetUp –
Road Runners Club of America –
Local Running Stores
Local Fitness Centers

Do you prefer to training solo or with a partner/group?

One thought on “Training With a Group vs. Solo

  1. I love running/training with a group because I find that I tend to be more focused yet distracted when I’m running. I’m also less likely to bail, cut it short or take advantage of too many stoplights. But, I think there is something to be said – and you said it – for doing a few long runs alone to build mental toughness. I’m so used to running with people now that racing alone can be disconcerting, especially if my buddies are doing better than me.

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