Before I moved to Chicago I never ran with a group. Occasionally I would run with a friend, but I rarely ran with more than one person (with the exception of races, of course). While I prefer to run alone for the most part — I love my me time and listening to music or Audible books — I was reminded last week of the benefits of running with a group.
- Motivation and accountability. It was 30-something degrees on a dark November night. I was hungry and cold, and I was easily persuading myself to skip the group run. I could always run on the treadmill in my building, I said. But would I push myself? I knew the answer would be no that day, so I rushed to the group run meeting place and joined them for 3.5 miles. I was glad I stuck with it because I needed the inspiration to run. My fellow runners’ excitement for running was contagious! By asking friends to run with you or joining an organized group, you gain inspiration, accountability for showing up and lots of tips from others! Plus, you will know you are not alone in any securities you might have about running, like your speed.
- Challenging yourself/improved speed. It was my first run that was more than 2 miles in weeks, so the run was difficult for me. I had all sorts of muscle tightness throughout my first weeks of pregnancy, and midway during the run it became worse. Later that night I felt so much tightness that I could hardly walk. I worried that I had injured myself by pushing too hard, but I awoke the next morning to see that any tension I had felt was gone. The run and postrun stretching had helped work that out! I was proud to have pushed myself to run faster than I had in almost two months. When you run by yourself, you might stick to your typical pace and never challenge yourself to go faster. It’s smart to occasionally run with people who will push you to speed up just a tad. You might surprise yourself!
- Friendship. The running community is welcoming. I enjoyed the companionship and conversation among the runners at my pace during my last group run. One of them was the first person I met at a meetup in 2015 when I first moved to Chicago. Her warm welcome kept me coming back, and I’ve met other wonderful friends at these meetups since then.
- Mixing it up. We took a different route from the usual path, and we ate at a new restaurant. It was a nice change from always running to and from the lake, or on the Chicago Lakefront path. Running the same route can get boring, so it’s important to add some variety to your workouts.
The best part about group running is that fellow runners are your cheering section. You’ll get high-fives and encouragement when you need it. If you have to stop mid-run, someone will wait for you. I highly recommend it!
I don’t know how I will feel throughout this pregnancy but I hope that I can attend these group runs at least once a month for all the reasons I listed above.
Do you enjoy working out solo or with others? What’s your current favorite workout?