Running is rooted in finishing a race in as little time as possible. The journey to that point is what makes it fun.
Yes, running is largely an individual sport. We race to beat others and to better our PR. When we finish our first 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon or ultra, most of us excitedly plaster the appropriate race distance magnet onto our cars.
Sounds like an individual sport.
But really, it’s not. It’s a team sport. And not necessarily in the true sense of the word.
We may not go out on a training run with buddies with a particular workout in mind. Unlike road cycling, in which a rotating paceline helps conserve everyone’s energy and therefore keeps the speed high, runners often run in groups for the camaraderie—not for energy-conserving benefits, although those do exist in this sport to a certain degree.
There’s just something about meeting a group of friends at your local running shop, a running trail or even at the end of your driveway and heading out en masse for a run. Or how about spending some quality time with your spouse during an early-morning run? Some of my favorite runs, whether they’re a quick 5-miler down the street or a sightseeing “run” around Rome, have been with my wife.
Leave your iPod at home on these group runs. Enjoy each other’s company and talk about running, running shoes, running gear, running watches, running workouts and your next race. Talk about your PRs and your goals for the coming season. Or talk about life in general.
Long, solo runs build mental toughness. So do solo bike trainer rides in front of a brick wall. Group runs build and strengthen relationships. They force us to push ourselves to keep up with faster runners, which in turn makes us faster.
And then, at the end of a group run, is there anything better than sitting around and talking about the run you just did? Or discussing how you’re getting over that nagging knee injury that’s dogged you since the spring? This is especially fun in the fall and winter, when you and your running buddies can swap post-run stories over hot coffee and pastries.
To me, running is and will always be a sport rooted in finishing a race in as little time as possible. How I get there is what makes it fun.
Do you prefer solo runs or group runs? Tweet me @jason_devaney1.