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Connecting on the Open Road

Posted March 31, 2015

I know many people love to run on their own. I appreciate time to process internally and enjoy tuning everything out to focus on pounding the pavement or trails ahead of me, but I think the benefits of running with others are worth considering.

Here are some reasons why running with other people can help you with overall performance and commitment to the sport:

You’re more likely to do it! Knowing someone is counting on you to meet and run with them will keep you accountable to get out there. The problem for me is that it seems like I could come up with an excuse every single day to NOT go out on a run. The motivation to get out there alone is often less convincing than those detracting thoughts; I didn’t hydrate well enough. I didn’t eat enough. I ate too much. My toe hurts. It’s just too cold. I’m tired. It’s too dark. I don’t have time. I don’t feel like it. The list goes on. I think for many of us, it can be hard to constantly push against those mental blocks. But one of the best things I’ve found to keep me from giving in to those excuses is a commitment to friends. If I know I’ve told a running buddy that I’ll meet them, I will. And most of the time the excuses don’t even come up. It’s no longer a choice.

It’s way more fun. In my experience, there’s something about pushing your body shoulder to shoulder alongside someone that strips away judgement and allows for deep connection in a way that little else does. Some of my running buddies have become some of my closest friends over all those hours and miles. It’s hard not to be that open and honest when you’re spending the hours that it takes to train together. It also gives you someone to swap nutrition, stretching and other running tips with and someone to celebrate successes with.

It makes you faster and stronger. We all have a little competitiveness in us. If you’re running friends are strength training and getting stronger, you’re going to want to do the same. If they’re pushing their pace, you’ll want to do the same to keep up.

And if you’re thinking, “Well, none of my friends like to run so this won’t work for me,” don’t worry! There are plenty of running groups in SLO that partner you with other people at your preferred pace and distance. This time of year you can sync up with a running group training for the SLO half and full marathons at Morris and Garritano, a race sponsor, each Saturday morning. There’s also SLO Roadrunners that meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings at SLO High School. There are SLO trail running groups. There are running groups through our local colleges, moms running groups and more. There are plenty of opportunities locally so try it out and see if it helps you stay more consistent and maybe even pushes you to the next level.