Today I will share my opinion about running groups.
What is better? What has my preference? Running alone, with a friend or together with a running group. Which of these three brings out my full potential at this moment? And what are the advantages and disadvantages according to me?
First of all, a disclaimer. I am not a professional these are just my own experiences and opinions about training methods.
For training, you have all kinds of different training formats, but also with who you train can matter. I mix up my trainings by training either alone, with a friend or family member or sometimes even together with a running group.
1. Training alone.
When I go for a run alone this has his advantages and disadvantages. One of the bigger disadvantages is that you need to motivate yourself. If I am having a bad day or a bad mood, the run feels like it will never come to an end and I might return home sooner than wanted. Which I know will be totally my own fault. Another disadvantage might be that you will not hold the same pace throughout the run, and you need a more experienced runner to help you with this.
I run in my solo runs with an average pace of 6.20min/km. This is the right pace for me at this moment and I am able to cover longer distances. This brings me to directly to an advantage. You will not run to fast for yourself. You know your body the best, you will run at the right pace and the chances of obtaining an injury in my case is a bit smaller. When you are not used to running at a higher pace it might cause injuries and pain in the joints. For me running alone is perfect when I am going for longer distances because I am aware my body is still adjusting to the duration of the impact.
2. Training with a friend or family member.
Training with a friend or family member can be great. It can be very social, you might be able to talk during the run and you will be a bit more motivated to keep on running on a bad day. You feel obliged to join the run. Or you do not want to cut the session short.
A disadvantage is that the other person might be running too fast, which can lead to injuries. Or the other is running too slow, in this case, you have to hold back. I am the lucky one, hence I am always the slower part of the duo when we go running.
I train either with my brother, who is around 1,90m (and I am 1,68m) with very long legs. But me slowing him down is good for him since he would like to train longer distances, and he basically never complaints.
Or I train with Szymon, sometimes we do this outside, but most of the times we end up in the gym on a treadmill. In this case, we both can run at our own pace and there is no problem. When running outside he is also never complaining about the pace, but I am not really sure if he minds that I run a bit slower than him.
3. Training with a running group.
Training with a running group might be the right choice for you. Sometimes they can give you tips about your posture and keep you motivated. The fastest people of the group sometimes run back to pick up the slower people. Or faster people slow down and start running with you to keep you motivated and to help you get there. These are all big advantages when running in a bigger group, they almost always make sure that you do not end up alone in the end.
I only train once per week with a running group, and this is not that we meet up somewhere and start running for fun only. These are “trainings” part of a competition in which you can either run 5km or 10km. You start with a big group of people (sometimes 50), which give you a similar feeling as when you start at a race. You have your own starting number and when you finish they note down your time. Depending on the place you finished you get a certain amount of points and at the end of the season, the person with the most points wins.
I believe that the biggest advantage of this training is the start. You start with a bigger group, so you experience a bit of the rush of a race. This means you might start to fast and you will need to deal with that throughout the race. As well you can push yourself a bit harder once in a while, like how you would do this on a race. Furthermore, in my group, there are always people waiting for you at the finish line. The last advantage is that in my group they make pictures from tiem to time. The one above is from one of the first trainings I did with them. I am aware I do not look flawless but as well I know based on the picture and my facial expression I was giving it my all.
I combine all three training methods but I do not really have a preference. IT really depends per day and on my mood. I have to admit that lately running alone has my preference, due to the longer distances. But I also enjoy the runs with my brother, which we combine with the running group. Here we are not running together but after the training, we go home together and still can chat about how it went.
If I look at my pace for all three methods, I have to conclude that the last one brings out the best pace. At this moment I have an average of 5.30min/km with the running group. Which is almost 1 minute faster than when I am running alone. But the distance is also a lot shorter.
Overall I enjoy these three kinds of training methods and they keep me satisfied. I am not getting bored and I am always looking forward to the next one. I guess what I try to say, all of them have their benefits and it is more about a personal preference. For me, it really depends on my mood.