This is the year I gave up running all by my lonesome and became part of a "thundering herd". You know who they are. The thundering herd roams/runs the streets of Savannah before the sun rises. They're all adorned in blinking lights and reflective bright neon shirts. We run in packs of all differing paces and reunite at water stops along the route, providing motivation to one another as we crank out the miles, or we reunite after a training run over Starbucks coffee. It really is a beautiful thing.
For training, some like running solo and some prefer groups. Everyone has his/her own preference and that's okay. Ultimately, you run a race for yourself and for no one else. There is no right or wrong. When I first started running, I preferred doing it solo. There was no pressure involved and I could go as slow or as fast as I wanted. Once I got over the fear and intimidation of running with a group, I found it's the only way I like to run. I like the herds that push me out of my comfort zone that is slyly unbeknownst to me. I know I'm pushing it based on my breathing. I wear my Garmin and only look at the distance. I wait until the run is over to check out my time and pace and I am always pleasantly surprised at how hard I just pushed it. Running with an organized training group provides you with workouts including speed work sessions, tempo runs, hill repeats, and long runs. It also provides you with different pace groups - for days you feel strong, you can join the faster crowd and on days where your body is telling you to take it easy, there's always another group that you can fall into. You improve with each training run - your endurance, your stability, your speed. If you aren't running with a group or a friend, I suggest you try it.
For me, running with a group provides accountability. I have my running partner that I consistently run with and I know he's counting on me to be there for the training runs and vice versa. If there isn't a conflict on the calendar, sleeping in is not an option. We both run with our fast-paced coaches who provide us that added boost of speed. I love it.
If you want to improve on your run times, I find group running also boosts confidence. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and crank out some miles with a group that's fairly faster than you. What's the worst that can happen? They leave you in their dust? There's always another group behind that you can fall into or better yet - find a friend that runs your similar pace that will accept the challenge with you. If you can't keep up, you still have someone to run with. If you can keep up, it's quite rewarding. It may not be fun in the beginning, but the end result will leave you smiling once you see your improvements. That approach worked out well for me. My running bud, Larry, and I constantly encourage each other on our runs. We know we're not the fastest, but we're trying to keep up with the ones that are and because of that, there's been so much progress in our running ability and run times. I'm always surprised at what I can do. My attitude of "there's no way I can do that" becomes "I can't believe I just did that!"
I recently started coaching Fleet Feet's Bridge Training program. Some of the participants are fairly new to running. I love it when they get excited about reaching distance PRs. It's a huge accomplishment for them - as any PR is huge for runners. Our morning discussions always revolve around the benefits of running with a group. During our runs, we talk about our goals and I give them my two cents on the benefits of running with a group - which to me are improving run/race times and self-esteem/confidence, as well as fostering some long lasting friendships along the way.
How do you prefer to run? If you've run with a group, have you seen improvements?
If you're interested in running with a group and are local to the Savannah area, I suggest you link up with Fleet Feet CREW, Savannah Striders, Moms Run This Town, and Georgia Game Changers. If you want to see improvements, get out of your comfort zone. You'll be surprised at what you're accomplishing are actual feats you thought were once impossible
Wanna train for a good cause? Sign up with Team In Training! Check out more details on Team In Training on my website - ceciliaontherun.com.
Hope to see you out there within the thundering herd! Run strong!