Last night I attempted a group run at the Louisiana Running Company. They hold runs after the store closes each Monday and Wednesday. Since I work until 6 on both of those days, I had to change at work and quickly make my way to mid-city. I would have been on time except that unfortunately Google maps mislocated the store on the opposite side of Canal, so I had to rush back to the car and find the correct location. It took me several trips around the block to find it in the dark (and all the streets are one-ways!) and find parking. By the time I parked it was pretty late but I saw one runner standing outside the store. We decided the rest of the group was already running and took off on our own. I was hesitant to run with someone out of the blue like that - if it was a group, we could all settle into our own paces and spread out if need be. But I felt obligated to stick with this guy since it was just us. At first he started out much faster than I'd planned to run (I have another marathon this weekend), but I kept the pace up and after a mile or two he slowed significantly. Actually he added about a minute per mile (by my guess) which I found odd. We finished and the rest of the group was back drinking water so I met a few other runners before quickly heading home to make dinner. As I drove, I thought about running with a group or with others:
On the plus side, it's motivation, it adds interest, and it's simply a social thing to do.
On the negative side, it's tough if you can't get your paces right or if one of you is having a bad day and needs a walking break. Or what if you feel fantastic and want to speed up, but your group/partner doesn't?
I have little "group" experience, but I have run a few times with the hubby (DOES. NOT. WORK.), Shelly at Decayed Gentlewoman, and Jen at Pretend this is Real. Shelly and I had a really nice long run: long runs are perfect for running with others because you are all going a long, slow distance so pace is not so important. Also a good time to chat. I talk ... a lot! Jen and I have run together a few times and I think are paces are exactly spot-on, probably helped by the fact that we're similar heights. Running with her helped me get a handle on pacing myself throughout a run. She kept telling me, "Slow down, you're a little fast, we have 8 miles to go, " etc. I credit her with my good race at Harrisburg because even feeling poorly I kept a very even pace (minus, ahem, the hills). I definitely picked her running brain a little! So I can say that my experiences have been positive in small groups, or with just one other running buddy.
If I make it back out to the running group, maybe I'll have a new perspective on actually running with a group instead of another lone straggler.
How about you? Do you have a running group? Do you like to run alone or with others? On a related note, if you run a race with someone, do you stick with them or do your own thing?