Everything You Need to Know About Group Running

Synchronized group
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Running is often thought of as a solo sport, but you're missing out if you always hit the roads by yourself. Group running can enhance your athletic experience.

What Is Group Training?

Group running is simply organized training, usually arranged by a local training association, running store, or health club. Training groups may meet once per week or several times during the week for a variety of running-related workouts.

Usually, runners of all abilities are welcome, although you will probably be grouped according to your running pace. For example, there may be different sub-groups within a large group so that those running a 10-minute mile are not required to keep pace with those running a 6-minute mile.

Types of Running Groups

There are different types of running groups. Some training groups are organized around a specific goal. For example, those running a marathon might meet for weekly long runs to prepare for their event. But there are also other groups for athletes who participate in 10Ks, 10 mile, and half marathon events. And there are track groups for runners who participate in sprint distance events.

If you don't participate in running events, there are also running groups for people who simply enjoy the sport of running. Generally, these groups include running workouts along with other social functions. There are also running groups affiliated with charity organizations, such as Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team In Training (TNT).

Group Running Etiquette

Regardless of the type of group you join, there are certain rules of the road that you should follow to make your experience—and the experience of your fellow runners—more enjoyable.

First, leave your headphones at home. Engage with your fellow runners during the workout. Don't be afraid to start conversations. For example, you can ask questions about upcoming running events or previous running experience. Positive and friendly conversations will help the time fly by, especially on long runs.

Next, always follow traffic rules. Stay to the right side of the road, cross busy streets with the traffic signal, and try not to run more than two abreast to allow cars and cyclists to pass. Always run against traffic so that you can see oncoming cars and trucks.

Also, run with your group. While this rule might seem obvious, there may be times when you feel that you want to separate from the pack and run ahead or fall back behind the others. Be sure that you choose the right pace group and stay with the others to enhance the experience.

Lastly, respect your fellow runners if need to spit, blow your nose or pass gas. Move to the side or back of the pack so that others are not affected by your understandable but less-than-desirable bodily functions.

Benefits of Group Running

It doesn't matter which kind of running group you choose. You can expect to enjoy a wide range of benefits from the experience of running with others who share your love of the sport.

Safer Workouts

It's obviously much safer to run in pairs or with a group. It's tough to get lost if you're with a group and, even if you do take a wrong turn, you have each other to figure out how to find your way.

When running with a group, you're less likely to need to listen to music, which means you won't be distracted or not able to hear cars or other hazards. And if someone in the group gets injured or sick, there's always someone there to help. Potential attackers are also more likely to strike a lone runner than they are a group.

Creative Stimulation

Some people prefer to run alone so they can sort out their thoughts and do some brainstorming. But running in a group may actually get your creative juices flowing even more than running solo because you're able to bounce ideas off other people and ask them for feedback on a project or problem you're working out.

Increased Motivation

With group running, you get your own personal cheering squad. Members of running clubs and teams root each other on during races and support one another through long runs.

You'll also be more motivated to stick to your training because you and your running partners will hold each other accountable. It's harder to blow off a workout when you know that your teammates are expecting you to show up.

Improved Performance

Let's face it: everyone thrives on a little healthy competition. When you're running with others who are encouraging you to run faster and harder, it's easier to take it to the next level. When running alone you may be tempted to cut your workout short, but trying to keep up with running buddies encourages you to do that extra hill repeat.

Career Benefits

While some deals are sealed on the golf course, plenty of important business conversations have also taken place between runners on the road. Running with co-workers, clients, or even your boss is a great way to network and build your professional relationships.

Also, meeting new people through running is also a great way to expand your professional circles and potentially find a new job, make new contacts, or learn about other business opportunities.

Reduced Boredom

It's tough to get bored when you're running with others. You're also more likely to explore new running routes when running with a group, which will definitely make your runs more interesting.

Sense of Community

Running with a group gives you an incredible sense of community. Whether you're racing together, volunteering at a race, or cheering on your teammates, it's fun and rewarding to be connected with like-minded people and be part of something that's bigger than you. Runners can really relate to each other and are supportive of one another through running (non-running) problems and triumphs.

Expanded Social Circle

Anyone who has run with a group knows that it's a great opportunity to get to know people with similar interests. Many people have met their spouse, significant other, or close friends through a running group or club. Some runners end up traveling to destination races with friends they've met in running clubs or charity running programs.

Drawbacks of Group Running

While these group running benefits are substantial, there are some downsides to this type of workout.

For example, your group is not likely to have a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling. Typical training times include early morning and early evening. If your schedule changes regularly and you have to skip workouts often then group training may not be for you.

Also, you may have good reasons for running alone. Some people need the experience of aloneness that running solo allows. For example, if your job requires you to be actively engaged in conversations all day long, you may need some quiet time at the end of the day.

A Word From Verywell

Group training is not for everyone, but it is smart to give it a try if you've never tried it before. The benefits are numerous and you may find that you like it more than you expect. Take some time to find the right group for you and connect with the team leader or coach on your first day. You're likely to make new friends and gain new skills to enhance your love of running.

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.