4 Tips for Group Runs

Running with others can liven up more than your routine. In a social setting, you may be able to go faster or farther than you do on your own. And often, the acquaintances you make as miles roll by grow into friends for life. But going to a group run for the first time can be intimidating. Here's how to get over any fears of joining the pack.

Your Worry: Others run faster or longer distances than you usually do.
Your Move: Some groups are competitive and serious about speed, but many others are more social and include runners with a wide range of abilities. Before you go, contact someone in a group to find out about paces and distances. Try to find runners who run at your pace or slower. If they run a little quicker than you, say by 10 to 20 seconds per mile, it's okay to try to keep up, as long as the distance is close to what you're used to covering. If they're going farther and faster than you usually do, though, stick with a crowd that runs closer to your speed.

Your Worry: I'll get left behind while I'm on the run and end up lost.
Your Move: Most running groups will adjust the pace so that no one gets left behind. To avoid getting lost, find out what the route is ahead of time. (Many clubs post maps of their runs on Web sites.) If you keep a pace that's comfortable for you, chances are you'll eventually catch up with the other runners who may have slowed down.

Your Worry: I usually take walk breaks, but others in the group do not.
Your Move: You are in command of your running enjoyment. For the majority of people I work with, walk breaks make running a pleasure because they fend off fatigue. That said, if the others are covering a distance you know you can handle without walk breaks, it's fine to forego them.

Your Worry: I'm not sure whether it's okay to talk while we're running.
Your Move: The opportunity to relax and socialize is often what draws people to group runs. So go ahead and introduce yourself and ask questions, just as you would at any other gathering where you are new. Chances are, when regulars spot an unfamiliar face, they'll reach out to welcome you.

Ask Jeff a question at jeffgalloway.com or jeffgalloway.blog.com.

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