Pack rules

running with friends

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? 

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


  1. says

    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. says

    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. says

    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

  4. says

    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

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. Terzah says

    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!

  8. says

    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

  9. says

    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

  10. says

    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

  11. says

    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

  12. says

    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

  13. says

    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

  14. says

    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!

  15. says

    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

  16. says

    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

  17. says

    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