Gain a New Community and Sense of Belonging
When I first moved to Tucson, my running club was just what I needed. I didn’t know a soul in the desert, aside from my partner. Looking for friends felt like an awkward form of dating that I didn’t know how to approach. But when I joined the running club, I suddenly had a social group. Runners, it turns out, are my people. When you’re with a group of people for hours on a regular basis with nothing to do but talk, sweat and keep running, you get to know them in a deep and meaningful way. Completing a challenge together only strengthens that bond.
Peer pressure. That is why I ran my first marathon. I was perfectly content with the half marathon distance before meeting my run crew. Why did I need to run farther than that? But my new friends had registered for the full marathon training group. “It will be more fun together,” they told me. I didn’t want to miss out on Saturday morning runs and group breakfast afterward. I was intimidated by the distance, but I figured that if they could do it, I could too. I somewhat begrudgingly signed up for the group and began to complete the longest runs of my life. Did I regret it? Of course not. I worked hard, completed the race, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I never would have signed up for the race or run that far without the running club.
Completing a speed workout with other people is more motivating than doing it alone. No matter how motivated you are to hit a certain pace, having another runner beside you will make you run faster than you would solo. Whether you are sweating it out together for intervals or completing a regular run, a group atmosphere provides the motivation to push yourself to better fitness and faster times.
Have More Fun
One of the wonderful things about running is that you can do it in a million different ways. There are endless combinations of places, surfaces, and distances that you can run. Sometimes I prefer to run alone. But when I have a 22-mile run to complete, it feels so much easier and much more fun to run it with friends, whether we’re talking the whole time or silently slogging together. With a running club, there are always other people to run with or to check in with before and after the workout. The coach picks the route and tells you where to go. For me, the logistics of route-finding is half the battle, so that is a huge relief. Not everyone will stay together, but the sense of community that comes from being out on the road or trail at once—being in it together—makes it more fun than doing it alone.