Pros of running alone
Running solo allows you to lock into your own pace. This can be particularly beneficial for tempo runs, where perceived effort, heart rate (if you measure it) and finding a rhythm are key. It can also be useful when returning from injury as it ensures that you don’t get carried away trying to keep up with your running partners, placing additional stress on your body before it is ready.
When running alone you don’t have to compromise your workout in any way. Not only can you dictate your pace, but also the distance, route and even the time of day that you run. It’s important to remember that one size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to training.
Due to a combination of genetic and environmental influences we all respond to training in different ways. Running solo allows you to focus on the training that suits and works for you.
Whilst running with others is obviously much more sociable, running alone allows you to indulge in some peace and time to yourself. For many people, running is a form of mindfulness; you can escape the stresses of daily life and allow your mind to drift.
Cons of running alone
Training on your own can, at times, be soul destroying, particularly during the dark and cold winter months. You can find yourself struggling to get out of the door and counting down the minutes during a run. It certainly takes a lot more mental energy to run alone than it does with others.
There may be some places, for example, poorly lit areas or remote woodland, that make you feel a little more vulnerable and unsafe if you are alone. Running with others ensures safety in numbers and you have the reassurance that help and support is on hand in case of an emergency.
Pros of running with others
Training with company undoubtedly makes you more accountable. If you’ve arranged to meet a training buddy, you are far more likely to grab your trainers and get out of the door, rather than sink back to the couch.
Having company during harder sessions can be a game-changer and can help to elevate you to the next level of performance. Not only are the tough sessions made more enjoyable, but the positive peer pressure can push you to hit splits that would be difficult to do solo.
Linking up with other runners means that you will be surrounded by help and advice.
Regardless of age or ability, nearly all runners are able to relate to each other in some way and will most likely be willing to share training and race tips.
Cons of running with others
The downside to always running with others is that you may not have that luxury in a race situation. In longer races, with smaller fields, it’s not uncommon to find yourself running alone for periods of the race. This can be very challenging mentally if it’s not something that you are used to as you don’t have the distraction of others when those negative thoughts set in.