Pack rules

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A few of my many training partners and I headed to the start line.

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? 

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Comments

  1. I think it’s so awesome that you have your running pack. I never really found that, mostly because I prefer to run alone. But when I did train with a team, it was incredibly motivating to have all those people around me and running together and boy did I run faster! As with anything, I think have ground rules is most important so that there aren’t any misunderstandings or hurt feelings.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..5 Exercises to Strengthen Your KneeMy Profile

  2. I wish I had a pack, since I moved to a new area the fees of joining a group has deterred me from joking an organized group.

    I liked when I did run in a group someone would always stay with the slowest person. That way they didn’t feel left out, or if anyone got hurt someone was bring up the rear.
    Amber recently posted..Good Morning And Good NightMy Profile

  3. I train alone and might sometimes do one run with my club per year. I just prefer it this way.
    Johann recently posted..Two This TuesdayMy Profile

  4. GREAT TIPS!! I coach a 10km group at our local running store. And I am thinking joining the Marathon gang when I get the green light again post-op.

    But I have always shied away from training with a group just b/c of my deeply competitive nature. I know it would be easy to get swept up running at faster paces and pushing too hard just to keep up. But I also think it would be good to have a group to push me… hmmm I guess we will see
    Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..Surgery 411My Profile

  5. I had a great running group several years ago but when I started running before work I couldn’t convince anyone to run with me. 5:00 is too early. Nonsense!

    Great tips!
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..13 in 2013 Virtual Race SeriesMy Profile

  6. My pack rule is to don’t run in packs!
    Jamoosh recently posted..Maybe, Maybe NotMy Profile

  7. Great post! I had some trial & error when I first started with CAR! It took me a while to key in that I needed to be a group behind in the long runs, as I needed more recovery, than my young, track companions!
    Dash recently posted..I am (still) F-I-E-R-C-E – end of 2012 | start of 2013My Profile

  8. Excellent points! I run with a group usually once a week and we all run the comfortable pace of the slowest runner and stay together Sometimes we get together during the week for hill repeats as well. None of us run that same tempo speed, so all of my speedwork runs are done solo, and I’m ok with that. As much as I love running with friends, I also enjoy the solo miles.
    Jamie @ Rise.Run.Mom.Repeat. recently posted..Daily HydrationMy Profile

  9. SUCH a helpful post. I ran with a group of ladies a few years ago when I was on the Ft Hood Army 10 miler team. Could not agree more with what you said here especially the part about recovery runs. No one recovers the same. Listen to YOUR body – not everyone else’s =)
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..It’s Racing TimeMy Profile

  10. This lone wolf does not run in packs either. But I’d love to find one at least once in awhile!
    Marcia recently posted..Injinji Toe Socks GiveawayMy Profile

  11. I miss my running group like crazy!! I’m just trying to get my speed back so I can hang with them again! We run at night so our big rule was to never leave anyone alone. If someone was way behind the group then someone always joined them. Helps with safety and also not to feel discouraged!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Three Things Thursday…Shame, Pats Nation, and Paying RespectMy Profile

  12. You make me want to find a group now. I have only tried a couple of group runs and they kind of ended up sucking for me b/c they weren’t people I knew and I ended up with a group way faster than I needed. I did it, but man i was ready to die by the end. I typically run solo or with 1 other person (my husband or a girlfriend). I like your tips though and makes it less intimidating. Basically, you gotta know yourself first.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Bike Trainer Spin WorkoutMy Profile

  13. I have always trained alone. One of the things I appreciate about CrossFit is getting to train with others.
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..Ragnar Trail, Ryan Gosling, Kitchen RemodelMy Profile

  14. I’m running a long slow one with a group for the first time sometime soon (maybe this weekend), and I’ll keep this in mind. I’m slow to warm up, too, and I’m supposed to keep my heart rate quite low for this one, which means my pace the whole time will be slow. I’m paranoid enough about following my training to the letter (when I can) that I think it will be OK….but it was good to see this reinforced in your list!

  15. I don’t run with a group, but I used to a couple of years ago. We would meet at 5 am and run an easy 3-5 miles. The problem with that group was that a lot of the women were lazy and wouldn’t show up so I had gotten up early for nothing or had to drive to the gym and workout. It was way too dark to run by myself that early. Now I just prefer to run by myself.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..How do you track your miles/workouts?My Profile

  16. Keeping it FUN! :)
    Kierston recently posted..Tips: Keeping your mind RIGHT when it wants to go LEFT.My Profile

  17. I usually run solo, but when I do meet up – it’s amazing how fast the miles usually feel!

  18. You guys are lucky to have such a group to run with. There are a couple of runners who get out as early as I do but I’d have to drive to meet up and they are faster than I am. I can only keep up for a few miles and it gets discouraging so I end up running alone or ….with my hubby who is slower. That’s NOT discouraging ;)
    Joanne recently posted..Someone’s Listening and FOFF Tequila Lime ChickenMy Profile

  19. Great tips girl!!
    Kat recently posted..Puttin’ on the Ritz!My Profile

  20. So interesting! When I run with friends, it *has* to be for a recovery run, or possibly a long run. If I have intervals or tempo, I need to do them alone, at my own pace, on my own timing. [Exception is meeting friends at the track, where we can all do our own thing, but on the track together.]

    Biggest group run pet peeve: Everyone pushing each other into a “snowball run” – getting faster and faster and faster…
    Holly KN recently posted..You Want Me To Hold This Pose For HOW LONG? (Intro to Yin Yoga)My Profile

  21. Great tips! I’m always apprehensive to run with a pack but I definitely see the advantage of it. I would love to find a group to run with maybe I’ll start looking around after baby nuunie is born. It would probably speed up my recovery too.

    Thanks coach!
    Katie @momslrb recently posted..27 Week Update:Pregnancy WorkoutsMy Profile

  22. I love the running group I run with pretty frequently. They are a pretty large group as well, so many of us break off into different pace sub-groups. It really does help you get through those tougher miles – the best distraction is good gossip :)
    beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..Playlist Thursday – Rock It OutMy Profile

  23. This post came at a good time, I’m going through this very thing right now. Your first bullet point is right on, but I would add “or slower, than the prescribed.” Sometimes you meet a great group and you want to stay with them but, they’re training just slightly slower than you, as you say, sometimes you need to leave them for a bit, but ending at the bakery shop sounds like a perfect plan to keep the togetherness. Thank you for some wonderful tips!
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Strawberry Napoleon with #SilkAlmond Pastry CreamMy Profile

  24. Great advice!! We call our group “The Herd”!! I don’t know what I would do without them.

  25. The group I run with we have an unspoken rule that it’s okay to leave the group and do your own thing. If we’re doing a tempo run and one person isn’t feeling it, there’s no pressure for them to have to stay with the group or the group to stay with them. They are also not left alone because we stagger start everyone so there is normally always a group ahead or behind to catch up to
    Amanda recently posted..Push or Pull Back?My Profile

  26. Great tips – so many people run too fast in a pack! My hubby runs his recovery days with me, because I’m slower than him. :)
    Heather @ Better With Veggies recently posted..Silk Rethinks PancakesMy Profile

  27. These are really good tips! I probably ran a few recovery runs too fast last year because I was running with friends. On that note, I really miss running with my best friend and running with a group sometimes. I’m hoping that before too long I’ll find a good group to do a couple of runs a week with here in Anchorage, but so far the only group I’ve found tends to do runs at a time that doesn’t mesh with my work schedule at all.
    Raquelita recently posted..Thursday Threads: Pondering Purple ProseMy Profile

  28. I’ve always run alone and enjoy it, but aim to find a running group this year to team up with on a semi-regular basis. Reading other bloggers experiences and seeing the photo of your pack makes me feel like I’m missing out on a lot of fun!

  29. I miss running with a group. I used to have a few friends that were similar in pace and goals and it was so motivating! Unfortunately, life has a way of changing, responsibilities (and children) come along.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..It Wasn’t All Bad: The Good Part of the WeekendMy Profile

  30. Your pack sounds like a lot of fun! I miss running with people.
    MILF Runner recently posted..Developing a strategy to achieve YOUR goals…My Profile

  31. Great tips. I run with a “pack” on Saturday mornings… mostly my long run for the week. It’s hard not to get caught up in the pace of others: fast AND slow. But running with a group, especially on long runs, is the best. You can carry each other through the miles and best of all, you get to play catch-up with everyone’s busy schedule.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Playlist Thursday: Rock SongsMy Profile

  32. I’ve always been envious of your running group! I have been thinking it’s time to find my San Diego group. It sounds like such great motivation and so much fun!
    Kate @ So Cal Runner Gal recently posted..The Blogger’s DilemmaMy Profile

  33. Fun post! I absolutely love running with my group!
    Mandy recently posted..Experiments in Cross TrainingMy Profile

  34. I’ve been slowly building a pack here… I love the advice to do recovery runs on your own. Or sometimes I use my non-running husband who can handle a few miles at a very s.l.o.w. pace.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Paleo for Athletes Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  35. This past year was the first time I really ran with a group. It’s made me a stronger runner for sure. I’m envious that you found a group to go out with you so early. I’ve only been able to convince one friend that 5 a.m. is where it’s at!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Blueberry Lemon Chia Seed Mini MuffinsMy Profile

  36. I don’t have a pack to run with, but I do have one main training buddy. She’s injured right now, so I’m having to go it alone, which sucks for both of us! I was invited to run with another friend, but have been chicken to do it because she is super fast. Maybe I’ll have to get over my fear and call her up…
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Marathon Monday – 12 Weeks to BostonMy Profile

  37. I haven’t run with a group in a long time. I miss the social part of group running.
    Kim recently posted..Warm or Cold?My Profile

  38. I love running with my group too but since I’ve been sick they’ve become a little too fast for me. My solution is to run my long slow run by myself mid-week then run the shortest distance on Saturday (our usual LSD run) and run it faster. Works well!
    Char recently posted..Guilty PleasuresMy Profile

  39. I run most of my runs solo – though I have a friend I’ve started doing some of my long runs with and so far these runs have worked out pretty well.
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Yoga practice is a must for runnersMy Profile

  40. How cool that you have a group to run with! The reference to pack reminds me of when I played roller derby. Our rule was not to trip each other. Haha.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..Be WeirdMy Profile

  41. It’s awesome that your with a group. My “group” used to be my kid. We started when he was 12. He could barely keep up. Now he’s 17 and his mile time is literally 1/2 of what my time is. Ehhh… there goes my running group.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Hot 100 Lean Legs WorkoutMy Profile

  42. love these tips- especially the recovery run one….still trying to find a good group here.
    elizabeth recently posted..I’m Having a Needle!My Profile

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