Whether you’re just starting to walk, Interested in building or maintain running fitness or even qualifying for the Boston Marathon, running with a group provides the support you need to unleash your potential. According to Brian Whiton of Fleet Feet Scottsdale, most running groups have individuals of all levels of experience interested in a variety of distances and running at a variety of paces, so everybody has someone to run with.
Fleet Feet offer a variety of training programs (Fleet Feet Running Club) to meet the needs of runners of all levels —whether you’re off the coach or months deep into marathon training. Here are 5 reasons why you need to train with a group now.
Whether you’re taking your first steps, or trying to boost your marathon performance, running with others can help you make a breakthrough. When you’ve got the support others, you’ll find it easier to go farther and faster than you might go alone. In the company of faster runners, “newer runners might challenge themselves a bit more than what they would normally do if they were with people who were slower,” says Alex Lugar, a Fleet Feet Running Club Coach and ACSM-Certified Personal Trainer with Fleet Feet West Lafayette. “There’s a sense of wanting to push yourself more because your new-found friends are pushing, too.”
If you’ve got a competitive streak, running in a group will help you to unlock your speed. Whiton recalls a woman who joined No Boundaries, a 10-week training program designed to get new walkers and runners to their first 5K. That was two years ago. She recently finished her first half marathon. “I think a big piece of what kept her going was having other people at her ability level to go out with, and those who were a step ahead of her who invited her to come do more,” he says.
Most groups offer support and direction above and beyond the miles logged. Many Fleet Feet training programs provide nutrition and injury-prevention clinics, and structured training schedules for specific races, which show you how to build your mileage and speed without getting hurt, in addition to gait analysis and a proper shoe fitting. This kind of off-road support is critical to getting fitter, faster, and staying healthy. Plus, it will serve you long after you cross the finish line.
It’s much harder to blow off a workout when you know that people are waiting for you. And that’s why a group can help you develop a more consistent running routine. This accountability is especially important when weather creates tricky training conditions. “With the cold weather it’s so easy to say ‘oh, I will just skip it today’,” says Lugar. “But if you have people counting on you being there and keeping you accountable, you are much more likely to attend.” Plus, there’s safety in numbers—especially when it’s dark, and the roadways are slick. “You know that if you slip on some ice or feel unsafe, you will have others to help you,” Lugar adds.
When you’re out with a group, you can discover safe, scenic running routes that you might not find on your own. The variety will help freshen up your routine. And having a new menu of routes can help you bust through training ruts that are born of running the same miles along the same route day after day. In Scottsdale, for instance, Fleet Feet partners with a trail-running group to explore local wilderness areas. While trail running can be intimidating if you’ve never tried it before, in the company of experienced trail runners, who are eager to share what they’ve learned, Whiton says it’s like having a personal guide.
Above and beyond speed and distance, fun is probably the most essential ingredient for developing a sustainable running routine. You’ll feel a camaraderie and sense of connection with others who are working toward the same goal. Together you can commiserate about letdowns and celebrate your successes. And when your run time doubles as social time, it’s a lot easier to get out the door, so you’ll be more consistent. “Even if you’re injured, or can’t make the miles, you can still show up after the workouts, to enjoy being part of the running community,” says Whiton.
What's more? Running communities make us healthier. Find out more in our post, Finding Our Tribe.