As runners, we often train in solitude. Running alone poses constant physical and mental challenges that we must learn to control and embrace. We also must defeat the anxiety, doubt and fear that can sneak into our heads. And the biggest competitor for each of us — against whom we compare race times, workout performances and mileage totals — is ourself.
Despite that we are often alone, running doesn’t have to be lonely — nor should it be!
Find a Running Group
To take that next step in running, search for a group of runners that meets close to where you work or live. Make sure the group aligns with what you’re looking for — in speed, competitiveness, personality and demographics. If they have a coach, meet with him or her to discuss how the team operates as well as how the coach can help you meet your personal running goals.
Training groups aren’t just for veteran runners. All runners, from beginners to pros alike, can benefit from the power of a team.
So you’ve run a race or two but are still learning the basics about training and racing. Congratulations — you have a tremendous amount of potential, and finding a training group is the best way to fulfill as much of it as possible.
Having a group to run with a few times (or even just once) per week will help you push yourself on those tough days, and the new friendships you’ll form will keep running fun. Additionally, you’ll feel a sense of accountability to the group. You’ll be much less likely to skip a workout when your running group is there for you. That accountability will help you build consistency, which is the most important element of building fitness.
You’ve been running for a year or two, you’ve competed in some bigger races and you’re looking to take that next big step up the fitness ladder. Consistency most likely isn’t an issue for you, but digging deep during your toughest and longest workouts may be.
That next big push comes from a running group. On your own, it’s easy to back off when a workout isn’t going perfectly or when conditions are less than ideal. On those tough days, having a group to latch onto and pull you through is invaluable. And in those workouts where you do feel strong, stepping up as a leader to pull your running mates along is especially empowering. A cohesive running group is like a locomotive, barreling down the tracks no matter what lies ahead.
If you’re a faster or long-time runner, you’re plenty consistent and know how to push yourself — it’s how you reached this level. But to wring the sponge of every last drop of potential, join forces with a group of like-minded, driven veteran runners. The energy that emits from such a group can make the seemingly impossible not only possible but likely.
When it comes to racing at a high level, every detail surrounding training and racing must be intentional. Seeking out a group with an attentive coach who not only understands the physiological aspects of high-level running but also understands how running ties into your unique lifestyle can help you fine-tune the details of your training and life to maximize your potential. A great coach will make a plan that fits your life, not the other way around.
Virtual Training Groups
For those who don’t live near any training groups or have challenging schedules, virtual running groups are an excellent way to become integrated into a community. By becoming involved in a virtual training group like Under Armour’s You VS the Year, you’ll be able to share encouragement, motivation and stories with runners across the globe and will feel accountable to get your run in each day.
Running with others pushes us to the next level, makes the miles go by faster and forms friendships that can last a lifetime. Here, we highlighted a sampling of some of the diverse, amazing local running clubs in cities around the nation.