TotR: Running Alone vs. In a Group

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run is all about whether you prefer running solo or in a group.  Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and I are excited to host the discussion, but we’re especially looking forward to reading about your take on it.

I’m a classic introvert.  Every single personality test I’ve ever done puts me smack dab in the Sheldon Cooper zone.  People may be necessary but they sure wear me out!  That means that when I run, I almost always want to run by myself.  I don’t mind having people around me when I run, but you’ll rarely find me actually keeping pace with a friend or family member during training or a race.

Running AloneWhy I like to run alone (even when surrounded by 10,000 other runners):

  • Anxiety. Before every race I get completely freaked out that I’m going to get exhausted or sick or hurt or just plain run out of steam.  If I am running with a friend or family member, I get even more freaked out because I don’t want to hold them back.  I’ve had more than one race where I wanted to run with a friend, but I suggested we do our own thing because of that anxiety.  I know it’s absurd and that I’ve never felt annoyed with anyone when they needed to slow down, but it’s a hard phobia to shake.
  • Pacing.  It is really hard for me to keep pace with some runners.  I tried to run Gasparilla 8k with my husband, but his run intervals were way faster than I could do and his walk intervals were longer and slower than my comfortable walk pace.  Because it wasn’t my pace, I never felt like I could get into that nice zone.
  • (speaking of) The Zone.  When I run alone (with or without music) I find that my favorite moments are those that are in “the zone”.  That is the magical time when the miles tick by without being noticed.  When my mind is preoccupied with some thought or other and I look down and suddenly I’m three miles further along than the last time I checked.  It’s a beautiful thing and I’ve never, ever gotten there unless I’m running on my own.
  • Enjoying the Scenery.  When I’m running with friends I tend to focus on chatting and not so much on the world around me.  When I’m running solo, I really notice nature and the gorgeous scenery around me.  IMG_8598_2

All that being said, the few runs that I’ve done at least partly with a friend are some of my favorite memories and were some of the most fun experiences.  Running the Tink 10k with Patty, the Princess Half with Karen and the Color Vibe Run with Theresa were all just ridiculously fun and enjoyable.


So, the lesson I need to take from this is that while some races should be focused on really pushing myself and focusing inward, I need to identify some races every year to run with friends and to just have fun.  My biggest challenge will be to conquer those pre-race nerves and my introverted tendencies to really commit to sticking with it and enjoying the moment.

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TotR: Running Alone vs. In a Group — 13 Comments

  1. I spend 95% of my time running with someone else and very rarely by myself. The only time I usually run by myself (although the whole group is out there running too) is speed work. We all find our own pace for that, but everything else, we run together. I like the time we spend catching up and chatting, especially on long run days. It’s my “happy hour”!
    Melanie recently posted…Race Recap: A Brighter Path 10KMy Profile

  2. I hadn’t thought of it before but I think I have that same anxiety of running with others – what if I’m too slow or get sick or just can’t keep going. I remember starting an event with a friend but telling her to run on before we’d made it to the first kilometre as I was so worried about holding her back! I’m pleased to say I am getting over this and have enjoyed a couple of longer stretches running with others – maybe I can change after all!

  3. I love dictating everything about my running. I didn’t have that luxury in the past and now I can decide what I want to do each day. I will talk to others while weight lifting though. Sundays are quiet and it’s the same group and that hour in the morning.
    Lesley recently posted…Running SoloMy Profile

  4. I would like to say I enjoy running with friends but after reading your post, I experience those exact same feelings before races. Thank goodness that the only person i’ve ever held back was my mom and she didn’t mind running at my slower, injured, pace!
    Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness recently posted…GIVEAWAYS and a WinnerMy Profile

  5. Love this! I’m one of those people who everyone THINKS is an extrovert but, in truth, I love my alone time and if I don’t get plenty of it I turn into a crazy person. My training runs by myself do that for me! And when I’m doing a race for time, I’m always on my own. Need to focus and not slow down or let my running group make me start out too fast (a constant sin of mine:).
    Jennifer Lefforge recently posted…ToTR: Running Solo Vs. Running With A GroupMy Profile

  6. You and I are very alike!! I can see what the benefits of a group are (although I think I’m still too slow to join a group) but I am introverted too and get anxiety about things like that to where running alone is just so much easier, LOL.
    Jenny recently posted…A Little Bit of RedemptionMy Profile

  7. I’m the same way – I have to have the time alone! The last personality test I took, I scored every question in the introvert spectrum 🙂 Ah well, at least we know ourselves, right?
    Jessica S recently posted…TotR: Running Solo FTW!My Profile