When I started running, it was something I did on my own. My first attempt at group running happened when I joined my high school cross country team. I never took running seriously back then. Actually, I was looking for an active outlet and chance to be a part of high school athletics since I wasn’t very successful at the other sports offered.
Fast forward to a post-college move from upstate New York to New York City, where I knew very few people. One of those few people had been running with a group called “BridgeRunners” based on the Lower East Side. It only took one Wednesday night run to be completely hooked. It was a vastly different type of group running than what I had experienced in high school. We ran the city streets with people of all different backgrounds, from every level of running. We’d meet after our day jobs, and run in the dark, in a massive pack, and end the night over cocktails. BridgeRunners gave me the motivation to sign up for races, and test my limits with longer distances and faster paces.
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Now that I’m back in upstate New York, the majority of my running is solo again with an occasional group run. I’ve learned to derive energy from new sources — whether it’s new music, the changing seasons or the pure excitement of my my black lab when I say, “run?!”
There’s magic in running alone just as there’s magic in running in a group. Here’s what I’ve found to be unique to each — and just a few reasons why it’s important to keep a healthy balance of both in your routine.
THE BENEFITS OF GROUP RUNNING
Consistency: By committing to meet others at a specific time and place, it’s an extra push you need to get out the door. You’re part of a team now.
Motivation: You’ll find yourself pushing limits to keep up with your peers; you may even increase your speed.
Camaraderie: Conversation replaces music — you’re not spending half your run pressing “next” to find just the right song.
Experiential: It’s way more enjoyable to share experiences over a run with others. Spice up a long run by running to the beach and soaking up the sun over tacos with friends.
Social: It’s a great way to network and meet new people. You’ll be making friends in your new home or on a trip abroad!
Community building: It’s the best way to get acclimated to a new place, there are some things you just can’t find with a Google search.
THE BENEFITS OF RUNNING SOLO
Meditation: It provides a moment to reflect and think in your own company, no distractions. You can focus more on you and what you’re feeling.
Sense of control: You can choose to run at your own preferred time, place and pace.
Discipline: There is no one else to rely on to push you out the door or push the pace. It’s all you.
Freedom: On an off day (we all have them), you have the ability to keep to yourself, and don’t have to perk up for company.
Digital detox: You learn to keep some runs to yourself and there is satisfaction in leaving some things off the internet. You give yourself a moment to enjoy your own company and surroundings without having to see it documented somewhere.
Healthy running is ever changing — and a great way to constantly keep your runs fresh, is to balance group running with solo running. Whether you need a 5K by yourself to meditate after a tough day, or you need to get your adrenaline pumping by meeting the crew at the track to get ready for the big race, both types of running are crucial in pushing you to be the best, happiest runner you can.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN