This week I went to my local running store and inquired about joining a running group. I don’t know a lot of people in the area, and I thought that joining other likeminded runners would be a great way to get to know some new faces. As luck would have it, every Wednesday night they host a women’s running group. So this week I laced up my shoes, showed up and tagged along on a nice easy paced run through the city.
I have never done a group run. All I can say is I have been missing out! This is not a training workout, but it is a great way to log some miles, chat about life and have a good time. The best part of the night was, I hung out with some really awesome ladies who spent the entire hour telling me how great the other people in the group were. How refreshing to hang out with women in a sport who aren’t beating each other down, and instead spent their time talking them up and singing their praises!
There are many benefits to a group run. You don’t always need to go fast, and in fact a nice slow, conversation paced run (where you can comfortably hold a conversation) has many benefits both mentally and physically.
On the mental level, a nice slow group run allows you to get those miles in without the pain and discomfort associated with faster paces. Running with a group can make the perceived effort seem far less rigorous as you may feel running on your own. How many times do you hit the pavement and start to let your mind wander and talk yourself into being tired? A little distraction never hurts!
But the benefits go much deeper, to a cellular level. Slow running helps train your cardio system to get that oxygen in and use it efficiently. It also trains your body to push out that carbon dioxide and lactic acid (ugh, those achy muscles you get when you first start running) more quickly. Let’s face it, we feel much better when we can breathe out there on our runs! A nice slow steady effort trains your muscles, ligaments, and tendons to get strong and used to the stresses of running.
If there is a running group in your area, I strongly encourage you to join. You don’t need to, nor should you do all of your workouts in a group, but there are benefits to be gained. If you can’t find a local running group, find some friends who might be interested in getting together, or consider starting a group of your own. Many of my friends have joined some awesome groups that work with a special cause: Team in Training, Team DetermiNation, and Run for God are just a few examples. With a little online research you will likely find a group fits your style. You can also do what I did and stop into your local running store for more information. They are a very valuable resource and I have found that most of the employees are just like you, runners!
As for me, I plan on going back next week for another fun evening with the ladies!