-Benefits of training with a group.
Race day. Just you versus time. PR, BQ, First Overall, or in your division, running certainly sounds like the ultimate individual effort. Is it really? Sure, setting out for a long run, unplugged from the world, clearing your mind of nothing but the sound of your breathing and a squeaky shoe insert has its merit. Mental fortitude, for one. But, does more stand to be gained by sharing those miles with a group? Let’s take a look at some of the advantages, waiting for you, nestled snug within your running group!
ACCOUNTABILITY – When that alarm clock starts to chirp and you roll over to see a glowing “5:00 AM,” it is a swift kick to your motivations groin. But, whether you find comfort in knowing that you get to spend time with friends, or find joy that others in your circle are getting the same “good-morning-face-slap” – the result is the same. Relying on others and knowing they are relying on you, can make a huge difference in, not only, your overall running enjoyment, but also your ultimate race goals.
CONTROL – How many times have you heard that a good way to judge your intensity level is to start speaking? 100? 1,000? At least. That’s because, for most runs, it’s true. Many years ago, I read an article that suggested I recite the “Pledge Of Allegiance” to judge my intensity level while running. It was a great self-test, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel silly. I’ve never been comfortable talking to myself – odd for an only child, I know. In a group, however, you not only have a constant effort gauge – you can also find yourself lost in conversation! You chat about kids, family, sports, or, politics, (God forbid) and the next thing you know, 10 miles have flow by and you’re done!
EDUCATION – Gear. Nutrition. Recovery. Everyone has some new tips, tricks, or things that they’ve discovered and are willing to share. Is it time for a new pair of shoes? Odds are, someone in your group has an opinion. Some groups, in fact, will offer formal coaching from within! Take advantage of these groups. Information and experience are both necessary for knowledge. And both can be found, both directly and indirectly, within your group runs. Word of caution, however – always consider the source. I’ll just stop there. (Wink)
MOTIVATION – Have you ever, for those that don’t own or have forgotten their watch on occasion, run with a GPS app? There are a ton of them, for sure, but most of them have some sort of motivation feature that you can turn on or off. You know, for example, every half-mile a robotic voice celebrates your accomplishments by rotating through a pre-programmed series of cheers? Really sparks the “eye of the tiger,” right? Nope. But, what does is a group of people that rally around one another. Have you ever set course for a long afternoon run, only to get half-way in and call it quits because you’re, “just not feeling it?” You are much more likely to push-through when you have a friend, literally, on your side. Someone to motivate you, adjust their pace to accommodate yours, and push you through the grind of a tough run. Real. Good. Stuff!
CAMARADERIE – All of the prior benefits listed above lead to one common component. Friendship. The camaraderie built among a running group, I would argue, rivals any in sport. Voluntarily joining together to help one-another accomplish each’s individual goals, is extremely powerful. Running-buddies are the best!
Some of the world’s best runners, for decades, have been achieving greatness by training in groups. Maybe it’s time for you to discover the benefits of partner/group training? Whatever is holding you back, break free. The motivation and accountability found within a pack (or pair) can produce significant gains to every runner at every level.