Saturday, February 27, 2016

Running in a group vs running solo

It seems like this is an age old conundrum, is it better to run in a group or to run by yourself. Most people I have encountered over the years are firmly in one camp or another. There are those who say they only run by themselves. It is their time alone, time away from responsibility and having to to worry about others. There are people who only run in a group. It is their social time, their time to  connect with people who are not their children or spouse. Me? I am firmly in both camps, a true hybrid.
I belong to a fantastic running club (SCRR) here in Pittsburgh, and enjoy memberships in Fleet Feet's and Elite's as well. I love my club, and I love the atmosphere of showing up to a run and seeing hundreds of eager faces talking about what they ate that day, did they use the bathroom yet, what their pace plan is, etc etc. I enjoy saying hi to the runners that I never run with but know because we see each other once a week and interact on social media. During these runs I am very much a chatter! I can hold steady conversation for any amount of miles with anyone I run with. I LOVE TO TALK! And from within that group I now have a little posse of runners that I always run with. We have ran together for years and know each other well.
HOWEVER, I also enjoy running by myself sometimes. Sometimes I need quiet and to just do my own thing. A time where I am focused only on myself. During these runs I can honestly say there are often no thoughts in my head, I just let everything go.
This morning I showed up to my group run. I had 18 miles to do per my plan and after a few days off do to a muscle strain I was unsure of how it was going to go. I knew I was going to do a few early with a member of my posse and then join my 8:30 pace group for the 15 mile map option. As usual I went in and said hello to everyone and waded through the hundreds of runners waiting for the run to start. I started to get that feeling, that feeling that the crowd was too much. As the run started and my pace group took off, I quickly realized that today was going to be a run that I was going to need quiet. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted from the week and I couldn't handle the chatter that I usually love so much. So I sped up and went ahead of the group, just running my own run and my own pace. I am fortunate my crew knows me well and knows when I go ahead that usually means I need alone time and they let me go. So I did my 18 miles enjoying a quiet solitude. No music, no chatter, just me and the city. I have to say that I am glad that I did. It helped me get re-centered and back into a better positive place.
So when it comes to the argument of is it better to run in a group or by yourself, I don't think there is a clear answer. I think it should be an ever evolving thing. So if you only run by yourself, try a group run sometime. You might be surprised at how nice it is to have chatter to help the miles fly by. If you only run in groups, try a solo run sometime. You might be surprised on how clear your head gets during that time. Or maybe you are a hybrid like me. Either way I hope you all got in a good run this weekend! If not, well now is as good as time as any!

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