“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” has long been the mantra of many endurance athletes (and endurance sports), but these days more and more endurance enthusiasts are finding success through training with a group.
From community-based groups—like the Snail’s Pace Running Academy, L.A. Tri Club, and the San Diego Track Club—to groups of world class athletes—like those in the Mammoth Track Club—beginner to elite professional athletes from every endurance sport are seeking each other out. Training groups and group workouts are becoming part of the foundation for finding success in the endurance world.
Here’s 5 reasons that group training will increase your enjoyment of training, while improving your abilities and skills, and deliver better finish line results.
1. Increased Motivation
It’s undeniable, training with others is fun! Whether acting as your personal cheering squad at events, workouts, challenging you to step it up or tackling new training program a training group will provide an atmosphere that will foster and encourage you to push yourself beyond what you’re likely to on your own.
“A good training group will lift you up when you need it, and encourage you to get the best out of yourself.” Heather Krug, a runner in SoCal’s Dirt Divas—an all women’s trail and ultra running group—shares “We are there to encourage each other and keep things moving. We have all had tough running days and sometimes all it takes is a small gesture or comment to change your outlook on your day.”
Think about it. One of the most common reasons that people don’t stick with an activity is lack of accountability. Is there any one of us who hasn’t skipped a workout because it was dark out, we were tired from the day, it was just more comfortable to stay in bed —the list of excuses goes on and on—only to regret it the next day? Having a group workout scheduled holds you to a standard. You know that your buddies or teammates are counting on you to show up to encourage them, challenge them, and socialize with them.
3. Healthy Competition
Healthy competition, or as it’s more formally called—Social Facilitation—is a well-documented concept that originated in endurance sports. In fact, it dates back to an 1898 study of cyclists by Norman Triplett. Specifically, it is the phenomenon where a performance is altered due to the mere presence of another person. It’s something we’ve all experienced in a workout before. The pace of a run or ride picks up to a speed that is faster than you usually go. So, instead of slowing down, you let yourself get caught up in the pace. You just go faster, and quite often don’t even realize it until the end of your workout while scrolling through your GPS.
Whether it’s a more challenging pace, steeper hill, or a fiery obstacle— if there are others with you, you’ll go faster, climb harder, and put your fear of getting burned aside. Throughout my coaching career, I have repeatedly observed this phenomenon as athletes have risen above and performed beyond their usual ability when in the company of others.
4. Expanded Social Circle and Networking
Joining a training group can be a great way to meet like-minded people. I have met some of the most amazing people in my life while at swim practice, on organized rides, and during group runs. Acquaintances can be transformed into lifelong friends while over the course of training together for an event. Two of my best friends not only ran their first marathons together, but met and got married after joining Team in Training. Additionally, connections made during group training can lead to career networking opportunities. While we often think of the golf course as a launching pad for business deals, I’ve seen many deals sealed during a long ride or run.
Quite simply, there’s safety in numbers. A group of athletes is more visible than a lone athlete. If someone gets injured or sick, there’s always a group member to help out. Statistically, your chances of being the victim of a crime are astronomically lower when you are with a group versus going solo.
The peace of mind this safety affords an athlete allows them to stay focused on the task in front of them resulting in the best possible workout. Fitness blogger Ashleigh Hinrichs of “Daily Cup of Asheejojo” started running with a group 2 years ago. Her take, “Running with a group has made my running more safe.
I am more knowledgeable about precautions to take. I can identify routes that are well-lit, pedestrian-friendly and sensible for running. And now, I also have a database of friends to call on and utilize the running buddy-system!!” All the benefits of group training — Motivation, Accountability, Healthy Competition, Social Engagement, and Safety — will make even the most novice of us into a better endurance athlete.
Whether it’s an organized training group like the ones mentioned in this article, or just getting a couple of your friends together for a workout, joining a training group will undoubtedly help finding your next finish line a successful adventure.
Check out some of the groups listed in this article, or head over to Meetup and share with us your reasons for training with a group!