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Running alone vs. Running with a club

I always thought that I didn’t need a running club to run with. I had so many reasons to run all by myself. But since I did end up at a running club, all I wonder is why oh why didn’t I do this any sooner? Signing myself up for the NYC Marathon 2016 and my general ambition to become a better runner and hit that next level is actually what inspired me to sign up for a running club.  So now, I’ve made a list comparing all my so called reasons never to join a running club versus the reality of being in one. 

1. Let’s get social

Alone

I’m a ‘the more the merrier’ type of person who is never alone. I’m always on the move – in a continuous non-stop mode – and so, peace and quiet (barely) exists in my life. That’s where running comes in; it makes me forget about everything. I log off, shut down, and go run! Some time alone without having to please others or taking others into account is just what I need. Truly a moment of peace, all by myself.

Running club

The first time I was at the club was a bit awkward actually, because of the real community spirit already present in the room. But quickly after meeting my new running group and getting their warm welcome, I started to feel a part of this spirit as well. I had never met these people, they didn’t have any expectations of me, and they came here every week to run for the same reasons I came to run. It felt so warm and positive that I really looked forward to running with them every week. Having conversations or small chitchats usually only happens during warming up or resting, and feels so natural with nothing being forced. 

During our warmups, we talk and laugh mostly. ;)
During our warm-ups, we talk and laugh mostly. 😉

2. Play that music

Alone

I always run with my music on. Running without a beat is so much heavier and I really need that beat to get into my running rhythm. Music gets me through the weak and tough moments and it keeps me from losing my focus. That’s why I never really ran with a running buddy. Listening to music and talking to someone else is a bad combination ;-).

Running club

During my second training, I carefully put on my music without my headphones. The rest of my running group could hear the music and their response to it was actually really positive. Still, I don’t always turn on my music when I run with them, only during the long distances or when I run most of the training on my own. I never thought this would work, but it is a perfect alternative.

3. Places to run

Alone

When I run at home, my rounds are all pretty much the same.  The same round and not a lot of adventure in them. You won’t hear me complaining about it since I have the beach and dunes almost in my backyard, but there is a slight possibility of getting bored.  But to be really honest, my sense of direction isn’t that well developed at all (and that’s an understatement), so I usually don’t have the courage to go off the beaten track.

Running club

It is a blast for me, to run with a trainer who tells me where to go. I don’t have to think about where I’m going, if I’m on the right track and I know I’ll be home on time.  Actually, my running club isn’t right around the corner from where I live and that’s a good thing. It means that I get to run around places where I would never run by myself. The only thing is that it is not so easy to assess how far it still is until the finish. Something I do know on my own routes.

running with a club
Ben is navigating us (on his bike) through some great places together with his dog.

4. Challenges

Alone

Do I challenge myself enough when I run on my own? I would really like to scream YES, but the truth is that when I run by myself, I run at a constant pace. And the only challenge that I usually add, is increasing my pace between light posts or ending the run with a sprint. So, no interval training for me when I’m alone.

Group

This is the real reason why I started running in a group. How am I going to prepare myself for the biggest race (42 km!!) in my life ever? I had serious doubts about my own abilities and I really wanted to be prepared for it. Now, interval training has become part of my weekly routine, because our trainer yells at us to speed up for 5 minutes or to run a certain distance within a specific time period. Having the trainer ensures that I get to do enough challenges that will make me better, stronger and faster. 

running with a club

5. Spontaneous

Alone

Being able to go out for a run whenever you like is one of the best benefits of being a runner. Big round or small round. I’m the one in control and calling the shots. If you have the opportunity and time, you can still do this next to running with a running club, of course. But personally, in wintertime I have a hard time motivating myself to go out for spontaneous runs ;).  Thankfully, my running club motivates me and kills all of my excuses. 

Group

Every running club is different, but my running club has a schedule for almost everyday of the week. So luckily there is a run that fits perfectly into my schedule and there’s always an option to join another group when I have to cancel during my regular running training.  And having a steady moment every week for a run, also feels great when you like structure and regularity like me ☺.

Do you run alone or do you run with a group and what is your motivation/experience? Would you do it differently?

Credits for my The Hague Road Runners running buddies 🙂

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