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Why Running Together is More Beneficial than Running Alone

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Why Running Together is More Beneficial than Running Alone

Whether you’ve just got your first running shoes or are a seasoned road pounder, having running partners can do wonders for your running. And while the romanticism of the loneliness of the long distance runner might sound endearing, in time you’ll no doubt find a desire to have some company out there on the road.

But what exactly is a running community…and why should we all want to be part of one?

The Running Community

A loose term that could mean anytime you don’t run alone. It’s about finding a relationship with others, even over the course of one run, that benefits your motivation, goals, and desires for running.

Learning what works for you will also inform what kind of community approach will suit you. Here are some examples to get you started.

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Types of Running Clubs

Highly structured and regular running clubs sit at one end of the spectrum, as well as, the more traditional local athletics clubs, running together has been brought to the masses by organised running groups sponsored by Nike, Lululemon and others (Search for Nike+ or Lululemon Run Clubs for more info).

This way of running allows it to be the glue in an otherwise potentially diverse social group, and often they make space for runners of all experiences. At the other end of the spectrum are innovative online ways of connecting, such as the online communities built around technologies like MapMyRun and GPS watches and other running technology. These allow you to run remotely with others, creating a community across the world to remotely ‘run’ with.

But these are structured and organised approaches. A more informal attitude could be suggesting to a friend to go for a run on a whim, or running over the hill outside your kitchen window with your dog at your heels.

Equally, I know friends who have run marathons, who have been supported through a playlist we made for them as a way to offer encouragement along the route. Finding your way to be supported by running friends and non-running friends alike is a smart way to widen your running support.

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Black and white image of a single runner in the distance stretching his quads and standing on one leg
    Solitude and space are other reasons to go out for a run, but company helps progress like nothing else.

    Why Community Matters

    As with any activity, there are a number of reasons not to go ahead and stubbornly pursue it alone. Motivation is a big one; having someone by your side to push you on, offer advice and give perspective is huge.

    Part of this can even be giving you permission to not run so far or so hard, as they are able to see that, today, maybe a short jog and a long relax on the sofa is most beneficial.

    Making a commitment to run with someone can also act as a huge boost. It can lead us out onto the road on a day we might otherwise have preferred to stay in. Running pals motivate us to go out or keep going, and this support is crucial in making running into what you wish it to be for you. Being able to stick to and believe in steady, gradual progress is another reason to run together.

    I find pacing much harder when I’m on my own. Too often, I am tempted to run like the wind, only to tie myself up with cramp before I’ve hit half the distance I wanted to achieve. Running together helps you to monitor pace, cadence and breathing because there are people around you to refer to. Also, if you run regularly with the same people, you can all support and advise one another on how you are all progressing, and spot when you’re going too hard or slacking off!

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    And this peer advice is the last perk of running together.

    We are all wiser than we might think, and learning that we can offer this advice to others – and then learn from them – helps ground us in our running. It’s often said that we don’t know a subject truly until we’ve learned to teach it. Sharing our knowledge with our running partners, and receiving theirs, in turn, helps create a communal pool of knowledge that benefits everyone.

    Two runners in the distance jog around a field that has recently been ploughed
      A friend gets you out running whatever the season.

      How to Build your Community

      Whichever group suits you, I would encourage you all to start to run with others. Different communities will suit us at different times of your life and types of person, so don’t be disheartened if finding the right way takes a while. Just keep on running as you search!

      One thing we can all do to encourage the running community at large: smile at each other!

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      One of my absolute pet hates is running past another runner, smiling, and receiving nothing but their glare in return. Folks, however fast, far or well we are running, a little smile and generosity offered to someone else who is out there with you goes a long way to building a strong community.

      So next time you run, smile at all your running partners…it makes a huge difference.

      More by this author

      Tom Pritchard

      Copywriter, Proofreader and Storyteller

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      Last Updated on September 8, 2021

      10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

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      10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

      “You can have results or excuses. Not both.” – Anonymous

      Human beings tend to only ever do as much as they absolutely need to.

      Motivational speakers call this innate trait laziness, biologists call it efficiency. Either way, the fact remains: we are evolutionary wired to minimize time and energy wherever possible.

      And this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we weren’t wired this way, we probably wouldn’t have survived this long as a species.

      Back in our caveman days, before supermarkets, calories were worth their weight in gold. For cavemen, trying to actively burn off calories would have spelled certain death.

      In this light, our fitness excuses make total sense. Our reptilian brain comes up with believable sounding rationalizations to stop us from burning off our precious calories; to minimize time and energy.

      Unfortunately, due to our present access to highly calorific foods, the fitness excuses that once ensured our survival, now send us to an early grave.

      Below I’ve provided the 10 most common fitness excuses our reptilian minds trick us into believing and why, ultimately, they’re all nonsense.

      1. I don’t have enough time.

      This is probably the most common fitness excuse of them all.

      First off, when you say you don’t have enough time, what you’re really saying is “I don’t have enough time for that”. 

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      Do you really think that if you were to add up all the time you spend watching TV and surfing the web throughout the average week you couldn’t replace any of it with a workout?

      A 30 minute workout takes up 2% of your day.

      Don’t ask yourself how much time you’re going to waste by working out a few times a week. Ask yourself how much of your life you’re going to waste being unfit and overweight.

      2. I’m way too tired to workout.

      Your mind, when it comes to exercising, is like a spoiled child. If you give in to its demands without a fight, it will see weakness and prey on it often.

      If you miss one planned session, you’re much more likely to miss the next. The biggest journey always starts with one step and the biggest failings always start with one step backwards.

      You need to show your mind who’s boss. You won’t always have lots of energy when you go to the gym but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is showing up and giving it a shot.

      If you’re too tired to workout, change your sleeping habits, not your workout habits.

      3. But exercise is so boring!

      You don’t want to exercise because it’s boring?

      So you find brushing your teeth, taking showers, styling your hair and getting dressed highly entertaining? No. We do these things because we have to. We accept them as part of life.

      The people who never miss a workout are the ones who view it just like brushing their teeth. Complaining about it is just pointless. To be successful sometimes you’ve got to do things that aren’t as fun as watching your favorite TV show. That’s just life.

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      If don’t enjoy your workouts, you don’t stop working out, you just workout differently. Try crossfit, martial arts, hiking, body building, powerlifting, running, or swimming. Try music. Try anything, but keep showing up.

      4. I have no motivation to workout.

      If you think you need motivation to train you’re already half beat.

      What you really need is meta motivation: the motivation to train even when you’re not motivated. If you rely on your feelings to decide whether to workout or not, you never will. As you know, your feelings are designed to keep you caged up in your comfort pit.  Your feelings want you to be safe, not successful.

      That said, there is a trick you can use to get yourself motivated to workout, and it’s  backed up with research. It’s called ‘the few minutes’ principle.

      The basic idea is that procrastinators often put off doing certain things because the size of the task in front of them seems too overwhelming. By deciding to just go to the gym for a ‘few minutes’ you’ll often see the workout through to completion.

      Are you motivated enough to train for two minutes? That’s all you need.

      5. I have kids to look after.

      One day your kids might have someone to look after too: you.

      Don’t burden them with an ill parent when they have their own kids to look after. And don’t be the kind of parent who tells their kids exercise is good for them but doesn’t follow their own advice. Kids are smarter than that.

      If you’re really struggling with managing your fitness and your kids, combine the two. Find a field and play frisbee for a few hours, go swimming, take a walk around the lake and feed some ducks. There are so many fun and cheap ways to exercise with your kids, the only limits are your imagination.

      You kids should be your biggest reason to exercise, not your biggest excuse.

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      6. I don’t have anyone to train with.

      What you’re really saying with this fitness excuse is that you don’t have anyone to talk with while you train. If you’re training properly, you won’t need to talk.

      Don’t get me wrong, having a training partner is great but here’s what you’ve got to understand: most people first meet their training partners at the gym. The reason you probably don’t have anyone to train with is because you don’t have many friends who train. Like attracts like.

      By becoming someone who regularly trains, you’ll start attracting people into your life who also value health and fitness. You have to earn your training partners, they don’t come free.

      7. I don’t feel very well.

      After you get into the habit of overriding your fitness excuses and working out regularly, the thought of missing a workout starts to drive you insane. When I broke my jaw in two places the doctors told me I couldn’t lift heavy weights for three months. What did I do? I lifted light weights instead. Train smart, not hard.

      At some point in our lives we’ve all pretended to be ill so we could skip a day of school. Some of the better actors among us probably blurred the lines in their mind between real symptoms and those imagined. It’s easy to exaggerate things when it fits our agenda.

      If you’re really sick, I don’t recommend you train. But feeling a bit tired or achy – that’s no reason to skip a workout.

      8. The gym is too expensive or far.

      If you think you need a gym to achieve your fitness goals, you’ve been seriously misled.

      The world is your fitness playground. Ever watched a training scene from a Rocky movie? He chases chickens, runs up steps, punches meat, and chops wood. Many people cite these scenes as their favorite.  Something about training dirty and raw resonates deep within us.

      There are whole fitness subcultures dedicated to working out outdoors, and without formal equipment. Ever heard of Calisthenics, Tai Chi, Yoga or Parkour? Look them up.

      If you want to put on muscle, try some typical strongman training like chopping wood, flipping tires, lifting barrels. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his own gym equipment out of chairs and sticks for the first year he trained. He claims he gained 25 pounds of muscle from doing this.

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      9. I don’t know how to train properly.

      If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously more than capable of figuring this out. The internet is brimming with routines and training tips. This site alone will give you more than you need. Read these 10 tips for better workouts, perfect for beginners.

      However, it’s important that you don’t get too engulfed in the theory of ‘training properly’. Like most things in life, you learn best on the job. Ask people in the gym to show you how to use proper technique, then practice through action.

      People love giving out tips. You might even get a training partner out of it.

      10. I feel intimidated by the fit people there.

      This is normal and everyone has this when they first start out. The environment is new, everyone there looks like they know what they’re doing. You feel like you’re in someone else’s home.

      The number one reason you feel intimidated when you go to the gym is because you don’t go enough! If you started going regularly you’d get used to the place, the people and your fitness would improve. Everyone knows training improves your confidence. Just stick with it. It’s something you’ll laugh at a few months down the line.

      Anyone can get in great shape. Anyone can become fit. But very few people ever do because they give in to their natural inclination to minimize time and effort.

      Stop making excuses and just stick with it for two months. After that you’ll be finding excuses to workout even when you do have important stuff to get on with.

      Featured photo credit: United Artists, Chartoff-Winkler Productions via Rocky (1976)

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