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Running alone vs. running with a group: why you should do both

Solo and group running provide unique benefits. To get the most out of your running routine, do both

Legs and shoes of four young adults running in forest

Do you prefer to lace up your sneakers and head out on a run by yourself? Or do you only hit the road if you have a running buddy or two in tow? Both have advantages, but by only doing one you may be missing out on the unique benefits provided by the other.

Doing some of your runs alone and some with a group will make you a stronger, happier runner. Of course, running with a group is unadvisable during the COVID-19 pandemic, so for those of you who’ve never really given solo running a try, now is the perfect time.

Benefits of running alone

Since dozens of new run crews began popping up around Canada, people have been shouting the benefits of group running from the rafters. Running solo can be an equally positive experience, and there are many reasons why even the most dedicated group runners should give it a try.

RELATED: 6 hidden benefits of solo running

You can run at your own pace. Whether you feel like running fast, slow or somewhere in between, you’re the master of your own fate when you run by yourself. 

You can create your own routine. When you have no one to worry about but yourself, you can run whenever you want. Whether you’re catching the sunrise on a morning run or hitting the streets after dark, there’s no more waiting around for your running buddy who’s inevitably always late.

You can focus on your form and listen to your body. When you run by yourself, there is less to distract you from paying attention to your body. This allows you to focus on your form and listen more carefully to what your body’s trying to tell you. This can prevent injuries and improve performance.

RELATED: Training your form

Running solo can improve your mental strength. It teaches you how to continue pushing yourself when things inevitably get tough — a must if you have a race goal.

Running alone gives you quiet time. Quality alone time can be as elusive as a fresh PB. Running by yourself guarantees some “me time” every day, during which you can relax, be alone with your thoughts or maybe rock out to your favourite tunes while you cruise down the streets.

RELATED: Music to get you moving: Spotify’s top running songs

Benefits of running with a group

The vast number of running groups across the country are a testament to their advantages. If you’re someone who tends to be a lone soldier, joining a group once in a while can improve your performance and make your training more fun.

Group running is a healthy social activity. Joining a running group allows you to meet other like-minded people. Nothing bonds two people quite like a gruelling long run, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly those kilometres fly by when you have company.

Running with a group keeps you motivated. Having a group waiting for you on those cold, dark winter days is a great way to motivate yourself when you can’t seem to do it on your own.

You’ll push yourself harder than you thought you could. Running with others can take you out of your comfort zone. By joining a group, many runners find they achieve goals they never thought were possible.

Groups provide safety and support. Running groups provide support to get you through rough patches in your training. Additionally, running with others can be safer than running alone. This allows you to enjoy your run without worry.

Track Workout
Photo: Matt Stetson

Group running during COVID-19

Group runs are cancelled for the time being, but there are still many ways you can stay connected with your crew even while running apart.

Create group challenges. Challenge your running buddies to a virtual 5K, or you give your team a weekly mileage goal. Apps like Strava can help you share your runs with your crew and keep everyone motivated until you can run together again.

RELATED: Run Calgary launches 90-day Winter Moves challenge

Share photos. Encourage your crew to share photos from their runs at local landmarks or interesting places. This can motivate everyone to explore new areas of their town or city that you never ran through as a group.

Running alone vs. running with a group

There are benefits to running alone and with a group. If you only do one or the other you’re missing out on some of the best parts about the sport. Including both will make your running routine more exciting and fulfilling.

RELATED: Strava’s Year in Sport report tells the story of running during COVID-19

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