Who do you run with? Are you a solo ace, a partner in a dynamic duo or do you feel naked without a slew of other runners around you? Most likely you fall somewhere in between.
When people ask me who I run with and I respond, “Well, mostly by myself,” they either look at me like there must be something wrong with me for others not to want to run with me or they start spouting suggestions for running partners or groups for me to join up with. Sort of like I’m the misplaced kid at the cafeteria and it is their kind act to swoop in and save me from alienation.
While I certainly appreciate their kind gestures and suggestions, the thing is that sometimes I actually like just running by myself, or me and my treadmill. You see, I’m kind of picky when it comes to running partners; it’s tough to find the perfect fit, sort of like the quest for the perfect running shoe.
Now, I’ve certainly found some awesome training partners and groups, where I felt I’d found a little niche. Trust me, when it comes to hard workouts, having others there creates the ideal environment to thrive; they can push you and if you want to get faster a sure way to do that is to train with people who are better than you.
But here is why I’m picky, and it’s nothing against any runners who don’t share my same mindset, we all have different ideas of what constitutes the perfect running buddy fit and what their goals are to get out of said run.
* The stoplight dally. If I’m approaching a light I’m going to do everything within my power to NOT have to stop due to traffic if I can safely avoid it. I’ve had people running with me beg to slow down in an effort to purposely miss the light and then have to wait for the go-ahead. This is an automatic disqualification and I’ll check you later buddy, but I’m going to make this light.
* The watch negotiator. I’ve also run with people who want to keep the watch running during a break (ie: stoplight, bathroom run, etc.)…in what time zone would this be acceptable? If we aren’t moving we aren’t running and the watch won’t be either.
* The close enough. I’m outed as a bit of an OCD runner, I know that, but if the coach has the run instructed to be 45 minutes then I’m going to run the full 45…most likely at least 30 seconds more just to ‘be safe.’ Hehe. You can think I’m crazy if we come back from our planned loop and it’s only been 43 minutes and I decide to circle the parking lot for that extra 2 minutes, you can join if you like, but on some level you’ve got to understand my line of reasoning.
The thing is, it usually comes down to the motivation factor or the ‘seriousness’ of the other runner or group. I believe training and running should be fun, it can be a blast when it’s not brutally excruciating (haha), but I’m not out to pick daises either. Sure, I’m not competing, but I still like the feeling of a decent run.
That said, I’m not a social pariah and not adverse to company on a run, I’m not a runner snob, it’s hard to explain. Sometimes I’m in the mood to just keep the run as ‘me’ time and it’s nothing personal to anyone else. Other times I can’t WAIT to meet up with my favorite running buddy so we can catch-up and gab, those miles seem to fly by sometimes. If I’m going out for a hard workout 99% of the time I want some company. In high school I ran a lot with my mom, we actually didn’t talk most of the time (she actually liked to wear headphones and go the music route) and that was actually fine with me. Because even in those silences I feel I bonded more with her in those daily miles than most other kids at my school.
Some people need company to stay motivated and the thought of being stuck with just themselves and the miles isn’t all that appealing. In the end, whatever works for you is great. (I did another post onwhat makes for the best running group environment.) I guess I’m just a bit of a picky runner, I know what makes for the perfect partner fit and when I find that I am also respectful to make sure I’m able to reciprocate that same ‘running code standards’ the other person has.
1) What do most of your runs look like, are the solo, with a partner, a few people, or a group? What is your ideal running situation?
2) Pluses, you feel, of running solo?
Even in groups, I know there are some runners who like to do some of their runs by themselves for whatever reasons. Sometimes they know that doing their easy runs alone ensures they are able to keep to the pace that allows them to recover.
3) Benefits of group runs, or running with others?
I think for training purposes having others to meet up, that share your same level of commitment and goals, is tremendously beneficial for lots of reasons. One being the obvious, you can all push each other to excel.