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Katherine Hopper: Strength in Numbers

I’ll be the first to admit that I love solo running. It’s my quiet time to recharge at the end of a stressful day. I can set out at any time that suits me. There’s no need to coordinate hectic schedules with my running friends. I run at whatever pace I feel like. I can stop to take photos of sunrises and sunsets without being“that girl” who makes the entire group pause.

However, there are solid reasons why running with a group can be a physical and mental game-changer, especially when you are putting in long miles training for a marathon. Even if the idea of running with a group or friends intimidates you, try it out, you may surprise yourself with how much fun it can be! Read on for my top five reasons to grab a friend or two the next time you lace up and head out the door.

No time for the snooze button

On a cold, dark morning at 5 a.m., the last thing I want to do is crawl out from under my down comforter to head outside and run. However if I know a group of my running friends is waiting for me, it’s the perfect motivation to get up and go.

The new and improved happy hour

The more I run, the less time I have for social interaction. Group running can be a fantastic way to log miles, visit with your friends, and get your social fix all in one fell swoop, especially when you have a limited amount of time in your schedule. Even better—run and grab a meal together afterward! I’ve made some amazing friends through running groups.

Built in tour guide

Running around a new city is my favorite way to get a feel for a new-to-me place. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to go. Before I travel, I look up the local running clubs, e-mail the contact and join the group for a run. Not only do I get a local’s tour of the city, I find out about other must-do runs in the area.

Peak week distraction

The number of hours that I spend running becomes borderline mind numbing during high-mileage peak marathon training weeks. And, the temptation to skip a workout can become overwhelming, even for the most dedicated runners. However, if you know you’re not going through all of this alone, and you have a group of equally semi-burned out runners to meet up with, you can get through it more easily and probably with more laughs.

A chance to push the pace

When running with faster folks, I tend to exert more effort without it feeling more challenging. The group energy and conversations provide welcome distractions and, before I know it, the miles start ticking by at a speedy pace.