Are You Lonesome Tonight: Running solo, with a partner or in a group

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.
forest runner
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.
friends running
* 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.

4) What’s an automatic disqualification in your mind for a running partner?
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15 thoughts on “Are You Lonesome Tonight: Running solo, with a partner or in a group

  1. I am a solo runner – except when it comes to occasional races with my sister 🙂
    Most of my runs consist of me and my friend Wilson (the treadmill) and some of my favourite action movies to pass the time!
    I think running alone a lot of the time allows me to have time where no one is asking anything from me, and I can sort out a lot of things in my everyday life. I enjoy racing with my sister because she helps cut the nerves at the starting line and I challenge her during the actual race to keep her going.
    Oh Cait, you aren’t alone, I am also a to the minute girl. I need all the numbers to line up so my little OCD brain is happy 🙂

    • haha…gotta luv us OCD runners. 🙂 isn’t it great to have a family member that can be a built-in running partner, u have ur sis and i kno how much fun i had having my mom as company…and just think, it was YOU who wrangled sis to get out there to the races. 🙂 btw, i hope she is healing up and kicking her injuries to the curb…will u wish her my best!!

  2. Another great post. You write those posts that make me think, “dang, why didn’t I think to write that.” Thanks for doing so.
    I like to paraphrase Joseph Conrad, and say “I run as I dream – Alone.” (his quote, from Heart of Darkness, was “We live as we dream – Alone.”) I also dont’ want to have to find others who will suit my nuances. When I am running for time, however, a crowd around me helps, so I love doing long distance marathon pace runs with a running store group, where they have mile markers and aid stations.

    • oh heavens, for marathon distance long runs i’d take some company, i’ll hear that! 😉 u crack me up, glad i’m able to write posts that resonate with u…that said, we need to swap stories on some runners getting retribution on ‘yellers’ as ur last post was epicly awesome. 🙂 PS-i’m a writer and i am going to acknowledge those last two words as being stated. 😛

  3. I totally, 100% agree with you! Unless you are willing to stick to my plan for the day, I’d rather run alone (and sometimes, I just want to run alone because it’s ME time – nothing personal, I just need to think)!

  4. I am a solo runner for sure and am very picky about who I run with. I really am not trying to be a running snob, but I just can’t find people who want to train th way I do.
    great post!

  5. I run solo about 98% of the time. I would run with a group more often if I had the option. I don’t know a lot of runners where I live, therefore running solo is really my only option. One of the greatest things about solo running in time. I can just throw on my shoes and go whenever. Group running requires commitment- ahgh!!! 🙂

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