Before I moved to Chicago I never ran with a group. Occasionally I would run with a friend, but seldom did I run with more than one person (with the exception of races, of course). Now that I’m part of a running group I know I’ve been missing out, because joining a club has made me a better runner, even in just a short amount of time.
The first improvement I noticed was increased accountability and commitment. If I make a date to run or RSVP to an event, I have to go. When I am on my own I am the queen of finding excuses to postpone the run.
I find that I am pushing myself more to enhance my speed. The group has runners of all paces. Sometimes I am in the back of the pack, and sometimes I try to run a bit faster to keep up with people. I like that it’s not just the often-too-comfortable pace I like to stay in. And running behind the superstar runners in my group inspires me to try to get better. I can also evaluate my pace by assessing whether I can carry on a conversation while running.
Group running also offers friendship. I know few people in Chicago besides my running group members. I find that the running community is welcoming and friendly, much like the yoga community. Often the hangouts evolve into genuine friendships.
Fellow runners are your cheering section. You’ll get high-fives and encouragement when you need it. If you trip and face-plant, someone will offer you a hand. If you have to stop mid-run, someone will wait for you.
Lastly, my running group meet-ups help me explore new parts of the city while having fun. Can’t wait for the next run!