If you’ve been reading long enough you know I run with a group of friends several times each week. We’ve been meeting at dark o’thirty for several years now, and the group definitely enhances my running and my life.
The upside to running with others is the camaraderie, without question. You’ve got pals with whom you can chat away the long miles on the weekends and suffer through tough speed sessions during the week. It can make you a stronger runner, too, no question. All that said, when you’re following a specific training plan, there are things you need to keep in mind when running with a pack.
Here are a few guidelines I’d suggest when trying to combine training with group runs:
- If you have a specific speed workout in mind, be diligent at sticking to your planned paces. I’m still working on this one–it’s hard not to get caught up and run a faster pace than you’re supposed to if others around you are moving faster. But if you want to get the most out of a prescribed workout, it’s important to do the actual workout and not something faster.
- Run your recovery runs solo. This is a practice I preach and follow. The day after a hard workout, I go it alone so that my body can set the pace it needs to clear out the junk in my legs. Run with others and the recovery probably won’t happen as well.
- Know your own rhythm and try to follow it. Again, one I sometimes slip on for want of running with friends. I am a slow-to-warmup runner, each and every time. Most of my friends don’t fall into the same category. So when I’m starting out on a long run with them, sometimes I just have to let them go at the start in order to let my body get up to speed on its own time. Fail that and I’ll likely pay for it later on.
- Have a few ground rules. Even though our intent is pretty much to stay together, our group is large enough that we often splinter into various sub-groups and that’s ok. Also, we set up a start time and usually give everyone a few minutes to show up, but that’s about it. None of us minds if the group needs to get on the road and doesn’t wait for us if we’re running too late.
- Make it fun. The beauty of a group is that you can get creative with start/finish locations, distances, and post-run socializing. Birthday cake run, anyone? Yep, we do that regularly, finishing up our runs at a local bakery.
If you’re lucky enough to have a group to run with, enjoy the miles. Just have the self-discipline (most of the time) to follow a few rules if you are training for something specific, and you’ll get the most out of those miles.
What pack rules do you follow?