The decision to run alone or with a companion isn’t as easy as you might think, whether you are taking up running for the first time or moving on to the next level. Discover the pros and cons of running socially versus going solo.
Freedom: Running by yourself offers you full freedom over your run, allowing you to change any aspect of it without resistance or compromise – pace, distance, time and location; it’s all up to you. You are also free to fill your mind with whatever you want – ideas, music, an appreciation of the fresh air; you don’t have to feign interest in conversation chosen by a running companion.
Focus: – running is as much mental as it is physical. If you can strengthen your capacity to concentrate throughout a run, you will improve physically. Use this focus to listen to your body. It’s important that any runner – beginner or athlete – listens to their body. If you push too hard you might end up with the dreaded ‘shin splint’, which is all too easy to acquire if you’re attempting to keep up with somebody faster than yourself.
Management: Running with a talkative companion can take away from the intensity of your workout, slowing you down and holding you back. All runners are different and their bodies respond in various ways to certain types of exercise. Some might benefit from short, fast runs, while others might profit from long, strenuous runs. The heart of this physiological difference is VO2 max – the maximum oxygen consumption a person is capable of during training. When you run with somebody who has a much lower VO2 max than yourself, they simply won’t be able to keep up.
Running with a friend
Although running alone has its advantages, running with a companion might be equally or more beneficial, depending on what you want from your run.
Motivation: Probably the most notable advantage of exercising with a companion is the fun and camaraderie. The act of running may not seem fun in itself, but your level of enjoyment can increase considerably if you make it a social activity. If you need motivation, running with a buddy could make an enormous difference. This can be very powerful, particularly if you’re a beginner.
Accountability: Being relied upon as a running companion makes you accountable for your workouts. It’s been said that a runner’s hardest steps are their steps out the door, but with somebody waiting for you, you’ll hit the Tarmac with no problem. We might be able to conjure up a myriad of excuses to not run when we are on our own, but explaining your absence to your running companion is harder.
Competitors: When you and your running companion do get out the door, competition will fuel your athletic progress. Your achievements mean much more when you have something to compare them to. You’ll push each other to run faster, farther, and more often. As your companion grows and progresses as a runner, so will you – nothing fuels improvement more than a friendly competition.