Flying solo or…with a group?

Anyone who has followed me on Vox knows I really really love running.  I’m not a good runner at all, but I do apparently love it.  I have had all sorts of painful and unpleasant injuries and yet I continue to go back to running as soon as I can.  So I guess I do rather like it.

I am now the slowest I have ever been in my entire life.  I’m running well,  and I am seeing progress with the speed and pace problem, but like most things, improvement does not come quickly.

I have always been a lone runner.  Back in the day, I was dating a marathoner who was actually a slow marathoner, and I tried to go running with him.  It was sooooo frustrating.  He completely left me in the dust and in the end he was not that kind about it (which is actually the hallmark of someone who is not that content in their own running and life…). So  after all that, I pretty much have run on my own.  I occasionally take the semi-wonder dog.  He doesn’t care about pace, so he’s a good running partner.

Lately though I have been posting on  which is a really fun interactive training log.  It is a lot like facebook for runners.  I’ve started to share training with a lot of people in my area, and I suppose because of my stellar  on-line personality  I’ve started to get a lot of invitations to run with people….

Now, running with people is really supposed to be beneficial….

Liz Robbins and the New York TImes seem to think so:

In addition running with others can push one a little to achieve new speeds/distances. When jogging along with someone there can be mutual motivationAnd if you are one to skip workouts (I am not one to do that)…having someone you are meeting is pretty much going to make you less likely to not get out there.

However, if paces differ greatly, and neither person is willing to adjust, then all those benefits of group running go out the door.  It’s hard to get a great workout if you have to slow your miles down by 2 minutes, or you are running at a speed where instead of being able to converse, you can only gasp.

Plus it is harder to make friends as we leave college…and this is one way to make healthy friends who will support your healthy habits.

I’ve been asked by 2 women now twice.  They can see my slow pace, and I can see that their usual pace is 1 to 2 minutes faster than mine, often 3-4.  I even pointed it out to them that I really am slow!

I really would love to have some running pals in this area who would be supportive and fun.  But I am actually terrified of having yet another depressing experience.

So I wonder should I stay a Solo runner:

or should I venture into trying to run with people regularly.

What is your preference and why???


9 thoughts on “Flying solo or…with a group?

  1. Too bad you don’t live near me. I’m new to running this year and I just turned 40. My friends have been running for years and they run 1 to 2 or 3 min/mile faster than I do and it’s a drag. My runs are solo for the most part. My attempts at running with my friends or husband leave me feeling bad about myself or crappy because I kept pace and then bonked for the rest of the run. I get passed by runners on a popular route all the time. I’ve never passed a runner, only walkers. I’m solo for now, until you come into town 🙂 Slow and steady keeps me injury free so I’m learning to be okay with it. Great topic. And the background graphic is a shoe!!! Do I get bonus points???

  2. Emmi says:

    Maybe do a few trial runs with them, to see how it goes. It’s funny, I’ve recently been asked by a group of women (from a diner) to join their jogging group, since they frequent the same Lake as I do. I had to say no and it seemed to hurt their feelings.

    I run in the forest specifically to get the heck away from the human race. To not have to make that phony chitchat, to toss off the chains of politeness, run like a maddog and wear every muscle to shreds until that endorphin kicks in, and I feel great. Trying to socialize (even in silence, I feel like people distract me), to me completely kills the point.

    • I’d hate to offend. And I think people should understand that “to each his own” … Many people are so wrapped up in themselves that they would se eit as a rejection of them rather than a preference of yours!
      Personally when I am training at times, I do like to have someone running alongside me, just to chat. At times I see 2-3 women jogging along, catching up on things, and I feel a little bit lonely, but….I don’t really see the point in running like crazy to try to catch up. But I think for the moment I am going to have to decline until I get a little faster, or they get a wee bit slower!!!

  3. In Bangkok I don’t run outside, so there’s no opportunity for the group thing. However, when I lived in Austin, I found it very frustrating to run with someone else. I’d get caught up with so many things that the other person was doing that I couldn’t really enjoy the run. I was definitely a lone runner.

    If you think that a group run might help with the training, check it out, though.

  4. I agree with the comment above to give it a try with the upfront caveat that if i doesn’t work out it isn’t personal toward anyone, but that for now you’d prefer to go back to running on your own.

    I haven’t done much (any) running outside yet, but I did find that even running/walking the one time with my mom, my pace improved dramatically while still being able to talk with her. I think my problem is I am so worried about injuring myself or that I can’t do it that I subconsciously hold back when I don’t need to…I let you know if I still think that once I am out on the road more. 🙂

  5. As an exceedingly slow runner… I can completely relate.

    Usually a solitary trail run in the wilderness is exactly what I need, however at other times I would like some companionship and friendly conversation. However, it’s very difficult to find someone who is both slow AND also willing to go, say 20 or 30 miles.

    This is one of the reasons why I enjoy races so much; I get a chance to meet and talk with other exceedingly slow sloggers like myself (sloggers = slow-joggers).

    Runners of different paces can occasionally run together:

    Either the slower runner can run faster than usual, as a “tempo” run for training. They can use the faster runner as someone to encourage them to go faster than they normally might. Obviously, this can’t happen every time they run together. There wouldn’t be a chance for conversation, etc. It would get discouraging for the slower runner.


    The faster runner can choose to run at a slower pace as a relaxing recovery jog so they both can enjoy the company of each other. Of course, this demands respect and appreciation of the strengths and limitations of each.

    A discussion beforehand of what the goals of that particular run is essential. There is nothing more frustrating than a slower runner telling someone who is faster, “sure we can go for a jog sometime, but we need to go slow,” being reassured by the faster runner, “I’ll hold back and go slow today ,” and yet have it turn out into an unpleasant ordeal for the slower runner to keep up.

    Those people who always seem to be racing others, even in training, irritate me. For me, running is about the experience and the journey, not about beating others or always having to prove oneself. One of the best gifts a faster runner can give is to hold back so the slower runner can enjoy their company.

    Thus, I will rarely run with someone unless/until I know them well enough to know that they will be willing to go slow just for me. I don’t need someone to prove to me something that I already know: I’m really slow.

    My advice is to not give up on finding a similarly paced running partner completely. On the other hand, do not tolerate others who do not appreciate your limitations, or worse yet, those who look down on you because you cannot keep up.

    Even if you are not competitive, it’s good to run some occasional local races just so you can meet other like-minded (and similarly paced) runners in your area. You never know when you might meet a potential future training partner.

    Good luck and run on!

    • Hi Ultrathon! nice to see you here. Your blog looks awesome too!!!
      I ran a 5k each weekend in August, then predictably I started to hate 5K’s (especially on the last one when I got lost camein third to last and ran a 4 mile race and then won a medal as it was a thin field!)
      I think it’s hard for faster runners to understand the concept of slow…for someone else…etc.
      Right now I have really enjoyed making friends with people who understand where I am at..My favorite running moment remains when I ran the 5 mile race last september, 2 of the docs I work with also ran it, they are much faster than I, but both of them waited to run me in so I didn’t feel so alone the last quarter mile. There’s something special about people who run who have gotten over the idea that speed is the ultimate reward. I admire speed and I am working to speed up, but I also have come to a spot where I am happy just getting it done. I think I’ll pass on the invites, and might just invite them to come and do a gym workout instead, which is not such a contest…. 🙂

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