Is Running In A Group Better Than Running Alone?

Tonight I made my triumphant return to the South Beach Run Club. Can you believe it’s been five years since the days we met up outside Mr. R’s? Even more shocking, it’s been nearly seven years since Morgan and I frequented the Gables Run Club.

Margarita-Wells-Morgan-Gay-Coral-Gables-Run-Club-September-2011

Morgan and I, crouched at center, after a Gables Run Club run in September 2011.

Since my last run club stint, I’ve been more of a solo or partner runner, running in larger groups only when races absolutely demand it. I made an exception today because I was scheduled for an easy, short run and my friend Naveed asked nicely. The runs are usually around 3 to 4 miles so my plan was to run them at comfortable pace. Naveed had a different plan.

One of the benefits of running en masse, particularly in a run club, are pace groups. Naveed and our friend Diego recommended I join theirs so I wouldn’t have to navigate around slower runners until everyone was sufficiently scattered. It was a solid strategy, except for the part where I’m substantially slower than them. (Naveed and Diego run sub-8 min/mi, while I averaged an 8:21 min/mi in my 5K PR.)

Margarita-Wells-Miami-Marathon-Shakeout-Run-South-Beach-Run-Club-Fast-Pace-Group

The super fast, serious runners of the sub-8 min/mi pace group. Intimidating, right?

Another benefit of group runs is that there’s plenty of incentive to run faster. Not surprisingly, I started out at the end of the pack, pushing a 7:45 min/mi pace and still falling a few steps behind the last pacer. I wasn’t sure of the course so I made sure to keep her in my sight. When we caught up to the slower groups, I was finally able to slow down a notch but the runners (er, prey) in front of me and the vigorous beat of Glass House by Kaleo kept me at an aggressive pace.

Thanks to both perks—or, the peer pressure from Naveed and Diego—I finished tonight’s run at an 8:34 min/mi pace, despite a 9:49 min/mi warm-up that dragged down my average. I was extremely proud of myself. Back in the day, I would take off with the 10 min/mi pace group and fall toward the back of the group. Today I finished among the fastest of the pack. Miami half-marathon, come at me bro!

Margarita-Wells-Miami-Marathon-Shakeout-Run-South-Beach-Run-Club

Gear: Brooks Glycerin 15 running shoes, Garmin Forerunner 920XT watchBeats Studio 2 wireless headphones

Playlist: My “Charging Down The Mountain” playlist on Spotify

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