If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I really enjoy running with friends. I love having company and feel that pretty much even the worse run can be made better by adding company. I will do almost anything to avoid running alone. I’ll travel, run at the zero dark thirty, whatever it takes. I love running with others. However, I knew with my new training plan, I’d have to do some runs alone. Learning to run alone has been a challenge but I’m learning to appreciate it.
As you might recall, my new plan has me running six days a week. Running six days a week means that a lot of those runs are solo. I would love to run with folks daily, but that’s just not practical. I’m pretty much impossible for me to run tempo runs with anyone unless they are striving for my same exact pace range. And track work can be done with others because on the track it doesn’t matter what pace you are running to have the company but the weather has been gross for most of my track days so that has meant solo runs. The combination of higher mileage and solo miles has been tough. There are a few things I’ve noticed as I’ve learned to run alone the past couple months:
- Mental strength is utilized so much more on solo runs. You can have mentally hard runs with others (and I definitely have)…however, having others around is a push to keep going. When you are having a mentally hard run and you are on your own, you are only accountable to yourself. No one is encouraging you to stay out there and finish the run. That strength has to come from within. I am always working on mental strength and feel I’ve made some significant gains during this training cycle.
- The importance of both creativity and routine. On my solo runs, I don’t have the luxury of friends to distract me so I have to sometimes be creative in where I run. If I’m running an easy run, then I really like to mix up my routes because that keeps those runs from being boring. On my tempo days, however, I’ve begun to crave the routine of that particular route and by this point, I could almost run my tempo run without looking at my watch for mile markers because I know the route so well. I thought I’d get bored of running that same stretch each week, but I actually look forward to it. I think having the mix of locations alongside the routine of other routes helps keep me motivated.
- I appreciate runs with friends so much more. I usually get 1-2 runs with friends in each week and I’m so grateful for the company. I’ve always been grateful for friends while running but nowadays, it’s such a true joy to have someone to talk through a run with. I definitely love the social aspect of running and crave that each and every week.
Do you run solo or with others?