I like running in groups, with a running partner, and solo. Even though I belong to a few running groups, I probably run the most miles in solo mode. There are several reasons for this – time, training needs, and schedule challenges.
I’ve got a full spring ahead of me with a 50K and 2 marathons scheduled culminating at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My next big race is the Cowtown Ultra Marathon which is 5 weeks away. My mileage needs are definitely higher than my running group. Yes, I could run some initial miles with them and then finish out on my own. However, I’m not crazy about repeating loops to get to a bigger number.
On Saturday, I needed to run 22 miles per my training schedule. My running group was only running 5 miles as most are training for a half marathon. There are others that are training for a full, but again, I’m not crazy about adding multiple loops.
Running on my own also has some advantages – I can sleep in a little if I want. I can create my own adventuresome route. When I ran the 22 miler, I ran a new route. The tool that I used to map it out was www.MapMyRun.com. If you haven’t tried it, you’ve got to check it out. Here’s the 22 miler that I mapped out. It was cool to check out the new route. I was pretty familiar with the area as I have driven all over Plano & Allen before, but you get an entirely new appreciation of the scenery and elevation changes when you’re running.
A challenge to running on your own for a really long run is hydration. I usually have cash on me so that I can grab a Gatorade at a gas station. I’ve even been as bold as grabbing some work from water spigots on the outside of an office building. However, you go about it, you have to plan for it, since you won’t have the luxury of the running group’s water.
Having completed 9 marathons – I have never once ran a complete marathon with a friend. In some shorter races, I’ve ran the entire race with someone I know. Why is this? Whenever I start a race with my son, Cairo, or a running friend, I always wish them well in the race. We agree that we’ll stay together, but it’s a race and we all need to run our own race. Some run in negative splits, some bank time in the beginning, and some run a steady pace throughout. I’d really hate to hold somebody back from what they’re capable of. I’m looking forward to the Cleveland Marathon as I’m sure that my son, Cairo and I will definitely stay together for his first marathon.
When some runners hear that I do some long runs on my own, they’re surprised and state they could never do it on their own. What they don’t know is that they should do it on their own every once in awhile. Running solo allows me to simulate the race without the hundreds or thousands of runners and spectators. I’m not simulating the race pace, but the solitude of having to battle through this on my own. I’ve got to move my legs on my own, I’ve got to battle the negative thoughts through my head, I’ve got to come up with the landmarks to keep running to. Running a long run solo not only trains you physically, but mentally for the upcoming race.
Does it get lonely? Sure, but I get so much out of solo runs – as some say… running is cheaper than therapy! When I run, the world seems to slow down and I get to be in my own thoughts.
Now don’t me wrong, I love running with a group! I love the comradely, sharing experiences with each other, encouraging each other and pushing each other. I especially like running with a group when doing speed work at a track. I don’t think that I can adequately do track speed work on my own. I like being pushed and trying to keep up with others.
Into the thick of a training season, I’d definitely prefer to run with a group, but priorities don’t always allow it. In the fall, Cairo, my son, has his Cross Country season. My family takes priority and I’d hate to ever miss seeing him cross the finish line at a cross country meet.
If your schedule doesn’t line up for the group long run, embrace the solo long run! You might learn something about yourself!