One of the best things you can do to make your running more enjoyable is to join a group or club.
Running has often been described as a solitary sport. It’s true that out on the marathon course, it’s really you against the distance and it can be fairly lonely, even with thousands of other runners out there with you.
The long Sunday runs that come with marathon training can often be lonely as well which is why I tend to run with a running group at my local Running Room store. 32km is daunting enough so having a few people with you along the way can be a real help when the running gets tough.
Some benefits of group running include:
- Fun: nothing beats a little friendly banter or a bit of trash talking. Some of the best fun I’ve had over the last few years has been out on a Sunday morning run with some long-time running buds.
- Encouragement: our group is made up of a good mix of runners, both veterans and some rookies too. The multiple-marathoners are always happy to provide that much needed encouragement to the first-timers. Everyone was a newbie at some point and it’s good for the new runners to see that others just like them were able to train for and complete a marathon.
- Safety: having another runner or three around is always handy in the event that you find yourself injured or otherwise unable to continue. No runner left behind is something we practice in our group. If someone needs to drop out or slow up the pace, at least one other runner will drop back or we’ll make sure the runner gets back to the store.
- Accountability: if you no show, or don’t get your weekly runs in, you can bet that someone in our group will ask you about it. A good run group helps keep you going because you know if you don’t, you’ll hear about it.
- Motivation: when the run includes a brunch or coffee afterwards with the group, you’ll be more motivated to come out at 8:30 A.M. on a Sunday morning to get the run in. I look forward to the after-run socializing as much as I do the run sometimes.
Where to find a group
If you have one, your local Running Room store is a great place to find a run crew. There are free weekly runs on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings and I’ve never been to a Running Room that didn’t welcome new runners into the group. You’ve got running in common, so there’s no need to fear not having anything to talk about.
You can also check online for a local run club or crew. In Toronto there are a number of groups including the Parkdale Roadrunners and the Running Rats. Ask around at your local running store, or check the announcements board to see if there are any clubs in your area. Most of them will have social events that go along with the running if you are looking for more than just a weekly training run.
Local races are also a good place to look for clubs. These small events are often organized by running clubs in different areas and joining in and running a few of the events will allow you to meet some new runners and find out when and where they meet.
Group runs are more enjoyable runs
Find a group to run with and I guarantee that your long runs and training will be more enjoyable. The friends I’ve met running are some of the best friends I have and there’s no way I’d have accomplished the things I have over the last bunch of years if it wasn’t for them.