Like many I spent most of last year running on my own, some of us who started running during covid have only run on our own. So what's best Solo or group.
We are at heart social creatures who like to be alone and for many we are nervous of or for a few absolutely petriified of doing something new in front of others who we believe (falsely) are judging our performance.
So lets get that out of the way first, the only person judging you is you. Everyone else either isn't bothered or just wants you to enjoy yourself and for you to do well. They are there to support you. But you will probably only believe this after you've started running or cycling in a group.
The solo run.
I really like my own company, I also really like people, just not all the time.
Running gives me time on my own, to reflect on work, my family, why I do the things I do, problems or do Canada geese really to Canada? Its just me and the rhythm of movement. Some are hard and feel difficult from the word go others just cruise. Ive got emotional frustrated and elated all on the same time on a run or while on the bike. But here's the thing Ive never had a bad ride or run.
But here's the the down side. Solo runs are easy to skip, or shorten, You've got no one to meet, no one to let down. And no one to talk to. And do you know what, they are easier too. Its amazing just how easy a run is when you are chatting or listening to others. The miles just fly by. Group runs help you run more often, further. They should be a part of every runners armoury. IF you want to run fast run with faster runners. If you want to run easy then hang at the back just catching the breeze.
However Don't loose focus. If its improvement you want there are other runs you need to do.
Club social runs are just that as is the shop ride. You can work n your intervals or agree pick ups in pace but its hard to make your club run fit a specific training session. Especially intervals.
In my experience if you do most of your training alone, you think your doing intervals until you turn up to a coached session. Its to easy to be nice to yourself and convince yourself you've worked hard enough when your on your own. But competitive nature humans and of group runnings really lend itself to intervals.
Throw a coach into the mix (that is actually at the session, not just reviewing your data), and your really talking. They keep the group on track, making sure it's hitting the needs of individuals and groups. The benefits are huge. And here's the secret, the more rubbish you think you are at running the bigger the gains you are going to get. Beginners these sessions are for YOU. Similarly for cycling you need a coach (or a least a coaching plan) to read your numbers and for you to be accountable too. Its no surprise that the most of the strongest riders I know follow a plan and many have a coach.
So this is really down to circumstance, if you can run with a group that is slightly quicker than you, do it. You will very soon find yourself capable of running a quicker pace. Cyclists find your local chain gang and hang in there for as long as you can. Winter is the ideal time of year for this as many chain gangs (including the Thursday night Chainy) focus technique and will slow to the slower members.
If you can't join a local group run progression sessions targeting getting quicker each mile.
We should run with others regularly, the benefits are both physical and mental. not just for you but to others on the run. Every time you run with a group, the group benefits from you being there.
But if your like your me, running is an escape from the noise of life and work, a time to think and to reset. I like my own company, and being part of the landscape Im in. So for me I need both and I imagine nearly all of us do, so if your exclusively running just one, set yourself the goal of mixing up a bit. You never know where it will take you.
Velorunner, has free coached running sessions most Saturdays courtesy of Ben Gamble therapy for every level runner as well as Velorunner Weekly rides. Contact us for more more details.