Group running: the benefits of community – By Rachel Greenhill

Are you a lone runner or do you pound the pavements or trails with a group? While lone running has its benefits for your training, group running can bring your running to a whole new level, not to mention the fun and friendships you will make on the way. Have you tried it? Rachel tells us about her experience with group running. 

I recently went for my first local group run with a local North Brisbane social running group called Girls Run This Town (GRTT) – North Lakes (if you’re in the area find them on FB). It was like my first Parkrun all over again. What if I can’t keep up? What if no one talks to me? What if they laugh at me? I went in and out of the front door about three or four times before my husband said to me “Just go already!”.

So I did and now I can’t wait until next week!

I’ve always been a solo runner. Too afraid I’d look foolish if I ran with someone else or I’d be too slow. Plus secretly, I didn’t want to be shown up – so just a hint of competitiveness too.

As a mum, running was also my alone time. Generally the only “me” time I got all week. I loved pounding the payment, getting the days frustrations out, seeing how far I could go, and relishing in the feel-good endorphins!

However, this past Monday night, I learnt how valuable the group run could be.

Approximately ten women of all varying ages, paces and experience came along to GRTT – North Lakes. Some to walk, some to run, others to do a bit of both. We said our hellos and did intros, had a bit of a general chit-chat and then set off for a 6km run at 6pm.

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Of course (silly me), I set out faster than I intended and at about the 3km mark I died in the bum. I’d had a shocking sleep the night before, an even crappier day and I pushed my body too hard. Excuses aside, I ended up with a bad stitch and I was having trouble getting my breathing under control. I felt sick and needed to stop.

Rather than be left alone (another fear I had), one of the group regulars stopped and walked with me. She helped me to get my breathing under control, and suggested we do a run/walk on the way back of 100m walk / 400m run (or more if I could).

As we set out at my comfortable pace, she shared some really helpful tips. This included some of the RIFREV basic running tips to help with form and breathing, and a better hill technique. I was so grateful for her time, her patience and her knowledge. I didn’t feel silly and I certainly didn’t feel out of place. I learnt a lot and I ended up really enjoying myself.

Once I got home, I shared what I learnt with my teenage son, and we’ve both seen improvements in our runs over the past week as a result. I’m now trying to really focus on my form and finding the pace that’s right for me (not trying to keep up with someone else).

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So – where am I headed with all this? It’s like life really. When we live in isolation, we don’t get the benefits that come from being part of a community. Whether in life or running, the lesson remains the same. We can learn so much from others, particularly those who have been there before us.

I’ll still do plenty of solo runs (I need my ME time), but Parkrun and my weekly GRTT on a Monday night are now part of my weekly running activities too!

Group running – if you haven’t tried it, why not give it a go?

Many RMA girls have found solace in the group run. With over 7000 of us, surely there are women around you that you can network with and form a running group!

Here are some of the benefits of group running:

1. Making new friends – especially if you are new to an area, it’s a great way to network with new people and make friendships.

2. Being pushed that extra mile in your training –  you are more likely to push yourself harder in your training if you have someone else out there pushing you and spurring you to go further or faster.

3. Safety – running in a group creates a safer environment, especially if you are running on a trail, in the early morning or later at night.

4. Social impact – Your group may grow and can benefit your community, you could volunteer together, or fundraise for an important cause in your area. 

5. Mental stability – You can chat chat chat away and let all the woes of your day flow out! (that is unless your running a sprint group session and can’t mutter two words!)

6. It’s just fun. Let’s face it….running with someone else is just more fun!

We love seeing all your group run pics and hearing about your amazing adventures. Keep them coming and keep getting out there!

One response to “Group running: the benefits of community – By Rachel Greenhill

  1. Great read Rachel! I too was a hesitant group running, but when I finally found the courage to join the GRTT girls at Morayfield, running changed for me. I love meeting up with the girls and the encouragement and motivation I get from every single one of them!

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