Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
To Join Or Not To Join
For many runners, the idea of joining a training group can be intimidating. Regardless of how long you’ve been running, concerns over speed, endurance and even social awkwardness prevent many people from running with a group. I understand because I’ve been there! No one wants to join a “group” and find themselves running alone because they are too fast or too slow to keep up with everyone else. If you’ve been thinking about joining a training group but aren’t quite sure if it is right for you, consider the following.
Are you training for a big “reach” goal?
Whether you’re hoping to run your longest race ever or gunning for a shiny new PR, a training group can help you reach your goal. Having a group of people to commiserate with on speed work or long run days makes the time go by faster and also encourages you to stick to your training plan. If you are currently running the same distance and pace you normally run and do not have a desire to run longer or faster, a training group may not be necessary.
Are you struggling with motivation?
With busy careers (whether in an office or at home) and the hustle and bustle of family, many runners struggle with making it out the door for their runs. Committing to a training group—especially one that you’ve paid for—makes you more likely to hold up your end of the training bargain! If you happily pop out the door every day, you may not need the added motivation of a group waiting on you.
Are you on one end or the other of the speed spectrum?
Many people think that running groups aren’t a good fit for runners who are on the slower or faster ends of the speed spectrum. That can sometimes be true, but it isn’t always so. Many running stores, such as Fleet Feet Sports, have a huge variety of pace groups ranging from racers hoping to qualify for Boston to run-walkers and walkers. Call local running stores in your area and ask about paces for their group runs. Also, make sure to ask how many other people are running or walking at your pace! That way, you’ll know if there will be lots of other people to run with or not. Keep in mind that some stores tend to cater their groups more toward beginners, while others are dominated by fast, competitive runners. If you don’t find the group you’re looking for at first, keep asking!
Are you a newbie?
In addition to the fantastic coaching that is offered by many training groups (particularly those hosted by your local running store), training groups are a great resource for many other aspects of running. Groups often host clinics and discussions about nutrition, strength training, gear and more! If you’re new to the sport, you can learn a ton just by participating–and it’s free!
If any of the above sound applicable, you should definitely consider joining a training group to prepare for your next race! Many running stores host training groups; some are free, while others charge a small fee. These groups are often centered around local marathons and races and typically begin in the spring and fall. If you’re interested, call your local running store and ask about the details! You may be surprised to find there are tons of runners just like you out there waiting to hit the road.