Strength in Numbers? Do you Belong in a Running Group


Michael Bedolla, M.Ed., MSPT, PT

The sound of your feet hitting the pavement, the repetitive pattern of your breathing, in and out, in and out, the breeze cools your skin, your MP3 is blaring out your favorite playlist pushing you through to the next mile, all your worries drift away – This is your time, you’re running your stress away, you’re running alone!

You wake up an hour before your scheduled run; go through your pre running ritual with an excitement brewing in your mind, jump in your car and race over to a designated sight to meet your running partners, waiting anxiously to see who shows up for the morning run.  Yes! My running partners are here; you say your hellos, stretch and set off on your run with your group. Together!

Adam Krajchir, founder and director of Race with a Purpose and head coach for New York Road Runner’s Team for Kids, categorizes runners as either “cat runners or dog runners.” Cat runners just want to be left alone to do their own thing preferring running in solitude over social situations.  Dog runners on the other hand are very social runners enjoying the interaction and the feeling of running in a large group.
There are many advantages to both training alone and with a group.  The determining factor in what is best for you is your schedule and your goals.  For those cat runners who opt to run in solitude embracing “Me time” running is a means of escape. This allows some runners to reflect on their lives, life’s stresses and problems are often forgotten and/or solved during long runs.  The solitary run works especially well for women who are stay at home moms looking to escape the hustle and bustle of parenthood.  With the fast paced world rushing by, some runners are unwilling to lose their alone time and running with a group is just not an option.  Running groups also require meeting at a designated area at a designated time, which in itself is stressful for some people.   For new runners a running group can be very intimidating.  The fear of not being able to keep up with the group, over exerting yourself to the point of injury, newly entering an existing camaraderie between group members can be very intimidating.  I for one was mortified driving up to my first run group I saw everyone stretching from a distance, when I got closer I could hear everyone talking about splits and tempo runs.  Scary stuff!  That first group run was a tough one; however, I adapted very well and am now excited to be a part of a running group.

One of the many advantages to training with a group of like minded individuals is that you rarely have a low motivation day.  Training with a group will always provide you with that little push necessary to improve your run – you have your own personal cheering section during those long painful runs.  Along with motivation, you gain entrance to a network of healthy adults, a support group that shares the same goals as you do.  It is no secret that many relations are formed while running, both business and social.  I, for one, fell in love with my soon to be wife on a run!  Running with a group that is slightly faster than you will help you in shaving off minutes on your next ½ or full marathon, provide you with insight to injury prevention and nutrition to help you achieve maximal results. The beauty of a running group is that there is always someone ready and willing to coach you though your sticking point, get you to that next level.   Perhaps the greatest advantage to training with a large group is SAFTEY.  Larger groups are more visible to motorists, potential attackers are less likely to attack a large group, and, lastly, if indeed someone gets sick or injured help is a couple of steps away.  Running groups are the safest way to go for new runners, it is more likely that there will be adherence to a structured program and improvements will be more significant.

This is a relatively simple matter, over the last year there has been a huge increase in the number of runners and cyclists in the Rio Grande Valley, and opportunities to join a group are greater now than ever.  If you choose to start training with a group contact your local running authority or performance shoe store for information on local running groups.  If there are no groups in your area consider starting one, you may find a group of lifelong friends.  If you still prefer solitude during your run – obey all running laws, be careful and run happy!

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