For anyone who knows me very well, they know how much I advocate “group training”. For the 2 years I have been part of Hampton Roads Runners, I have been preaching the importance of training with the “pack”.
Perhaps my compulsion comes from always being a part of a group. As a runner in high school, college and the Navy, I have for the most part, by and large, always ran with a group. From time to time, I like to get out on a solo run to clear my head…but, the most fun and enjoyment for me, comes from running with the herd.
Being a part of a group has so many benefits. The group holds you accountable, where on your own, you may stumble. It’s much easier to roll out of bed for a run when you know you have people waiting on you.
Running in a group will always keep you on your toes and keep you striving for excellence. The energy and aura of the group will pull you through even the toughest of runs…It’s not a coincedence that a good majority of your “best” runs are while running shoulder to shoulder with your running buds.
Then, (this is my favorite part of group running) there is the always comical, interesting and just down right crazy conversations that are had while running with a group. It’s amazing the topics of discussion that will come up during a 2 hour training run. Topics that are typically taboo end up being open for discussion in the middle of a run. You also learn a great deal about your training partners if you run with them enough. It seems that every training run, I learn something new about one of our runners…something that they might never mention in a non-running atmosphere.
I also believe (and this is only my opinion), that humans are meant to work together as a pack. Just as the animal kingdom prospers in herds, packs, flocks, etc., we humans need and desire the same thing. For thousands of years, humans have evolved together as a group. We rose to the top of the food chain by working together…knowing that the pack is more successful as a whole. If you watch a flock of geese in flight, you will always see them in the “flying V” formation, because somewhere along their evolutionary path, they realized that they could fly further, faster and more efficiently if they used the strength of the group, rather than their own individual strength. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. Each bird takes it’s turn being in the front, falling back when they get tired. In this way, the geese can fly for long periods of time before they have to stop and rest.
Then, there is the amazing support system you acquire from running with a group. Your running buds will be there to cheer you on, push you through tough workouts and be there to console you if you are injured, in a rut, or had a bad race.
So, do I think that a runner should never lace up their shoes and go out for a solo run? Not at all! Sometimes, we need to run alone to get our minds right and to ponder certain things about our training, our relationships, lives, etc.
But, I do believe that as a runner, you will experience greater succes, more enjoyable times and will develop some great and lasting friendships if you start running with a group.
Perhaps group running isn’t for everyone..but I know for me, there are absolutely no desires to ever get away from my group training mindset. If you ever see me on the roads or trails, there is a high probability that I will be “Running With The Pack.”