It’s been nearly a year since I moved away from Saskatoon and from my team there. Since leaving, I’ve been training solo. With that, I’ve discovered both advantages and disadvantages. Of course, every runner is different in what training environment works best for them, but after a year of training alone, this is my take on it.
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The first thought that comes to mind when I think of training with a team versus solo is that I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to experience both. It seems that throughout a lifetime of running there is room for both, and at under certain circumstances one may be preferable than the other.
In comparing training with a team versus alone, I’ve come up with a list of pros and cons. I’ll start with the disadvantages of training solo, or perhaps better stated: the benefits of training with a team.
Camaraderie: I’m not someone who is drawn to groups of people. If given the choice, I much prefer to keep to myself. I guess I’m an introvert. Running with a team, in a way, forced me to be more social on a regular basis. And through that experience, I discovered there’s a wonderful bond that can develop among runners– which I value greatly.
Coach: There’s nothing quite like having your coach right there with you to guide you, to tell you to slow down, or to let you loose to give it on the final lap of a tough workout. There’s no doubt I miss that one-on-one relationship.
Relatability: We’ve all heard it: runners are weird. I can see why others see it this way but when working with a group of like-minded people, it’s uplifting to be able to share an experience in common.
Support: The support of teammates goes a long way in making some of the darker moments– like injuries– feel a lot more hopeful. I look back on the time I went through my ADHD diagnoses and was struggling with some anxiety around that. It took almost four months of various appointments to work through it. And although I didn’t talk about it often, I knew I had the support of my teammates and coach, and that was irreplaceable.
That list sounds pretty good, right? Why would anyone ever want to train on their own? Well, I have two solid arguments for that too.
Solo runs: As mentioned, I’m an introvert. So, in many ways, being able to train on my own is a fabulous feeling. I love being out on the roads or trails with nobody around me. On recovery days it’s a time of rejuvenation and to explore new ideas. On those harder workout days, a time to silently focus and get it done. I value this time beyond any measure.
Owning it: Not having the guidance of a coach being right there with me in training has shown me I’ve grown a lot in the past couple of years both in regards to my knowledge of the sport and in my understanding of myself as a runner. I now have to rely on myself to know when to slow down, or to back off a workout that’s gone sideways. It has been empowering to know that I have the ability and discipline to call my own shots when need be.