There is no getting around it; sometimes sticking to a running improvement plan with a variety of quality workouts can be tough. Invariably, sub-optimal weather is an issue. It’s hard sometimes to get that run in before or after work. There are days (O.K., weeks) where doing speed work or bounding up hills might not appeal to you. What can be done about this seemingly universal problem in running life?
To help you honor your commitments to yourself and experience greater joy, I heartily recommend finding yourself a running buddy or a group with which to run. There are a whole host of reasons to run with others or to find a running partner.
Don't hit the snooze...
Do you have trouble getting up early to run before work? Do you sometimes miss your weekend long run in favor of getting some extra sleep? It’s a common problem. One of the easy solutions is to make plans to run with others. If you have agreed to meet someone early in the morning for a run, you will be less likely to hit the snooze on your alarm. (You are also more apt to show up and finish a workout when someone else is counting on you.)
You might have noticed that faster-paced running doesn’t feel quite as difficult when you are doing it with others. This phenomena is due to “social facilitation.” People tend to perform better when in the presence of others. Essentially, your brain will encourage you to keep up when it might have given in to slowing down had you been running alone.
If you have done some running in groups, you may have found your next gear or “second wind” after benefitting from some enthusiastic vocal support. If you are in a period of low motivation, a good group or partner can be just the encouragement you need.
Regularly working out with a running group or a partner can help you keep tabs on yourself. As veteran runner Kathleen Gina points out, “Sometimes it takes another runner to tell us that we might be overdoing it and could use a break, or to point out that competition isn't everything.” (http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/the-benefits-of-not-racing)
While running with others can make the miles go by more quickly on a long run, talking with a partner or group can also assure that you are not doing your long run too quickly. Running at a pace in which you can hold a conversation is often recommended for long runs, and it is certainly easier to know what this pace is if you are actually holding a conversation.
Most groups seem to be mixed-ability, with some faster and some slower people. That’s an advantage because the slower people can get a push out of their comfort zone and the faster people can drop it down a notch to increase optimal pace for longer workouts.
If a training group always meets early on Sunday morning for a weekly long run, what started as a week-by-week arrangement becomes an ingrained habit. Our habits structure our lives, so be intentional about forming beneficial ones with like-minded people.
Joining a club such as the Fleet Feet Running Club (www.fleetfeetalbany.com/pages/fleet-feet-running-club) will have you looking forward to meeting up with new friends and accomplishing your runs on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. If you feel a need for some structured coaching to keep you even more motivated, look into joining a Fleet Feet training program (www.fleetfeetalbany.com/pages/fleet-feet-distance-project). Meeting a group can help you get into a routine that will make running second nature –– it also becomes a social activity to which you can look forward. Remember! Running should be fun.
Running with others can also help to keep your running fresh. Do you ever feel like you are in a rut? Hearing about what your running buddies are doing can be inspiring by getting you to seek out new running experiences. You might be inspired to try a new running location, a new workout, or a new race. How about this one: www.fleetfeetalbany.com/pages/10k-classic. Trying new things can help keep your running fresh and running in a group can help you to see running through other runners’ experiences.
Speaking of experience, you can also learn a lot from a group. There can be a lot of collected running wisdom and advice to tap into in any running group. Runners often talk about running while running (who knew?) and you will have access to some great advice from like-minded runners. If you are suffering from an injury, for instance, there is likely someone in the group who has “been there, done that.” There is no reason for you to have to go it alone.
If you find that you are doing the same runs over and over again, or are having trouble getting motivated to run at all, find a running buddy or a running group. This will help to keep things fresh and keep you motivated while providing a font of wisdom and advice to help you through injuries or merely help you find some new challenges. Running is fun and it can be even better when you share that fun with others.