Running in a group is special
16 June 2022
The clue is in the name when it comes to working out what RunTogether is, but it isn’t always clear what the benefits of group running are; although more and more runners are running in groups, whether it is at events such as parkrun, mass participation events like 10k races, couch to 5k or social running programmes such as RunTogether.
The benefits are as varied as the participants and for some runners the benefits can change over time and more than one enjoyed at a time.
“Having experiences” is much talked about these days. But what defines an experience is difficult. This said, there are many experiences to be had in group running: friendships, connections, camaridre, fun, leadership, problem solving, learning and development, motivation, reward and recognition. This list could go on!
Being in a group (small or large) means you can share the experiences, whatever they are, and this in itself is an experience many seek. Sharing is rewarding and motivating.
Every runner has a motivation for running and different groups within RunTogether allow people of similar motivations and goals to run together comfortably and safely.
“Without that motivation, it would have been really tough,” says Nicky Spinks, who joined a local group of runners more than a decade ago. “It was a fitness group and we just jogged around the block but learning from the leader was great and he had so much passion it just rubbed off on you.” Back then, she was in her own words a slow jogger, today having survived cancer she’s one of the world’s greatest ultra-distance runners. And all because she saw the power of running in a group.
“For those runners looking for performance improvements, group running helps you focus on a rhythm, which helps with consistency which then helps with performance,”
says Josh Griffiths part of the British team for the World Champs marathon later this summer.
Emma Cohen Professor in Cognitive Anthropology at Oxford University found from studies, “group running can help us to push harder or run further than we thought we could.”
Positive mental health
More and more people are now running for mental health reasons. Dr Brendon Stubbs, an exercise and mental health researcher says: "Our research has shown that running can have a meaningful improvement in mental health and wellbeing across the lifespan. The effects of running on mental health and welling are even greater in most people when this includes connection with others such as group running. Our research suggests the verbal and non-verbal interactions and sense of social connectedness have important health benefits and are important to form a sense of community and integral to long term behaviour change in running regularly".
“Put simply; ultimately sharing the same passion you have with others whether on the trails or roads is great for your mental health,”
Belonging and connection
Running in a group is special. It makes us feel a kind of belonging and connection with those we run with. It makes us feel in synch, safe, and together. “Running serves not only as exercise, but as a chance for groups, or individuals, to come together and move together” says Emma Cohen,. Studies on the social benefits of group exercise have shown that group exercise can strengthen social bonds and increases people’s perceived enjoyment and energy.Griffiths agrees;
“I do the majority of training alone but whenever I get the opportunity to link with others I jump at the chance as I enjoy the camaraderie and the friendly atmosphere can act as a distraction from the training.”