Are you a runner who needs others to get you out the door or is the loneliness of the long distance runner something you always crave? Is either better than the other? 

Running with a group has its pros and cons, just like running solo does. On one hand, running with a group can provide a sense of social support and accountability. It can also be a great way to meet new people and make friends who share a similar interest in running.

On the other hand, running solo has its own set of benefits. It allows you to set your own pace and schedule, and can be a great way to clear your mind and relax. It can also be a good opportunity to work on your personal goals and focus on your own progress.

So, which is better?

The truth is, it depends on the individual runner. Some people thrive in a group setting, while others prefer the solitude of running alone. The key is finding a balance that works for you.

Exercising with a group can lead to increased feelings of self-esteem and accomplishment, likely due to the sense of social support and accountability that comes from running with others.

When you have a group of people counting on you to show up for runs, you may be more likely to stick to your training plan and push yourself harder. It’s less likely you’ll stay in bed if someone is waiting outside jogging on the spot.

Lastly, something to be considered if running in more remote or mountainous areas, a group does bring some extra safety too.

That said, it does mean you’re going to have to work on other’s schedules too and can’t just head straight out the door when you first get the chance. It’s also vital to take into account the group’s collective levels. Finding a pace that is suitable for all might mean some are going a little bit harder than they should, or vice versa (but this is less likely as most of us train too hard anyway).

Ultra-runner and Hour7 team founder Michael Stocks knows a fair bit about the solo long run. Photo: Dave MacFarlane

What about the solo run?

On the other hand, running solo can be a great way to unwind and disconnect from the stresses of daily life. It allows you to focus on your own thoughts and goals without any distractions. Many find that running alone can lead to increased feelings of self-awareness and mindfulness. It’s our form of meditation.

You can run your own sessions, at your own pace, at a time that is best for you. Plus it can be a great time too catch up on podcasts or listen to some new music you’ve been keen to sample. Running in a group with headphones in is, apparently, considered rude.

Maybe if it’s been snowing there is another benefit of a group, safety. Photo: Dirty Runners

A balance?

Ultimately, the best approach is to find a balance between running with a group and running solo. If you enjoy the social aspect of running, try joining a local running club or finding a group of friends to run with. But don’t be afraid to take some solo runs as well, especially if you need some time to yourself or if your schedule doesn’t allow for group runs.

One thing to keep in mind is that running with a group can be especially beneficial for beginners. It can help provide motivation and support as you get started on your running journey. However, even experienced runners can benefit from the occasional group run. It can be a great way to mix things up and try new routes or workout types.

So, whether you prefer the solitude of running solo or the social support of running with a group, the important thing is to find a balance that works for you. Both approaches have their own set of benefits, and by combining them, you can create a well-rounded running routine that keeps you motivated and engaged.