Running with others has a huge effect on motivation. Research shows that there are three types of rewards that motivate. The first two are extrinsic and intrinsic factors. New studies show that a third motivation factor — family connections — provides a huge boost as well. Running with others can provide all three types of motivation.
Extrinsic factors could be external rewards such as completing a race. Intrinsic rewards may come from the escape from stressors or enjoying time spent outdoors. And if your running group feels like family, the third type of motivation applies as well.
Running groups provide accountability and support. Other runners understand when you’re having a bad day and will encourage you not to give up. What’s more, you’re less likely hit the snooze button and skip your run when your running friends are waiting for you.
"My running friends keep me going," says Kathryn VonAldenbruck, a Reasons We Run applicant. "We all have ideas that we are all willing to try. We've run one race every month for a year, ran several half marathons together, a couple of relay races, which are my favorite, and even a full marathon."
Even if your running community is online, interactions through Strava provide significant motivation, too. A 2018 survey reports that of 8,000 Strava users, 83 percent are more motivated to work out because of the platform and its online community.
Another motivating factor: The Kohler effect. This is the idea that nobody wants to be the weak link in a group. When surrounded by others, everyone is more likely to push through feelings of wanting to quit. Whether it’s running a few extra miles or going faster in a speed workout, running with friends is likely to bring motivation gain that will make you push harder and get a better workout than you would have alone. Researchers at Kansas State University found that when you work out with someone you perceive as better or more fit than you, you will increase the time and intensity of exercise by 200 percent.