Running Social

Sep 4, 2012 by

Running Social

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

When it comes right down to it, one of the things I like about running is being by myself.   Maybe running is decompression time for me or maybe I’m somewhat of a loner, I’m not sure.  Anyway,  I’d bet 99% of the thousands of training miles I’ve logged before this year have been solo miles. This year, though, as part of a surgeon-less makeover I’ll call Greg 2.0 (or maybe Greg 2012, if you’re a Microsoft fan), I made a conscious decision to add more social to my running world.  So far, this is what I’ve done:

  • Helped coach a group of beginners in a Couch To 5K-type program.
  • Coordinated a group of co-workers for a team event 10K.  We helped raise money for a charity and came in third in the corporate competition.
  • Paced a friend in a half marathon.  We both set person bests.
  • Trained with a partner for most of my runs this past summer.

Now, I’m certainly no expert on being social yet.   I barely have over 100 friends on Facebook.  Nonetheless, I’ve come up with some reasons to run social, at least occasionally, and some guidelines to follow when doing so.

First, I’ve discovered at least three reasons to run with others:

  • Motivation. Most of us, if not all, need help with motivation. If you know a group or partner is counting on you to run at 7am Saturday, you’re probably more likely to get out of bed.  When my friend Ben called me to pace, it was just the motivation I needed to set a PR. (I wrote about this in this old post.)
  • Knowledge sharing.  One piece of advice I gave to the beginners in the running club was to buy a good pair of moisture-wicking socks.  A couple of weeks later, one the runners told me she had followed my advice and really loved the new socks.  You can also learn from others.  I also believe that even the most experienced runner can learn something from others.  For instance, I learned about a running app from a friend during one of our runs.  I’ve also learned about races that sounded fun and penciled them in on the bucket list.
  •  Fun.  As much as I still like to run alone and be lost in bad ’80s music, running with others is really fun.  And if running isn’t fun for you at least every once and a while, maybe you should check out cycling.

Second, I have come up with some guidelines to keep in mind while running with others.  These are even more critical if the runners’ abilities are vastly different. One of the biggest challenges with running with others is how to compensate for these differences. Some suggestions:

  • Slow down to the comfortable pace of the slower runner(s).  Running is no fun when you cannot keep up.  Discuss the plan and pace before starting.
  • Don’t over do it – a.k.a know your limits.  This is a hard one for many guys.  The bottom line is it is just dumb to push way beyond your abilities.   If you’ve never run over three miles, then don’t try to do ten!
  • Don’t leave anyone behind.  I found this was especially important in the group 5K training. No one wants to be left behind on a group run.  I liked to make sure I played “sweeper” on the group runs, hanging out with the slowest person.  Sure, I could walk faster, but I just ran really slow and tried to give encouragement.  Remember, we’ve all been there.

If you have anything to add, please share in the comments below.


PS. Help me on the Palmetto State Runner Facebook likes.  Click here to go to the PSR FB page and click like.

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