Training Runs: Go it Alone or Join a Group?

Running groups are great for those who are looking for some change. Moreover no matter where you live, you could probably search for “Running Groups in _____” and find one fairly close. Some questions you might ask yourself to see if you’re a goo candidate for joining a running group are:

  • Tired of training by yourself?
  • Need some extra motivation?
  • Are your runs getting boring?
  • Could you use some other fitness-minded friends?

I was asking myself these same questions this morning. It’s getting cooler here in Central Illinois and it made me realize, I’ve never run
outside in the late fall/winter. This year, I think I’d like to try it, but I also think I’ll need some extra motivation. This realization led me to research running groups. I was aware that there’s one in Bloomington/Normal, but that’s about the extent of knowledge that I had on running groups.

The group in Bloomington/Normal is called The Lake Run club, but you can go to this link at Cool Running to see what clubs are available near you. A cool feature of the link above is that the clubs are based on a rating system, so if there’s more than one available club to choose from, you can hear what others had to say about it.

The Lake Run Club is the group nearest me, and it offers set days during the week where the group gets together to run. I was glad to see they offered group runs during the winter. Here in Central Illinois, the winters are obviously harsh, but it also gets darker earlier. Running with a group is much safer than running alone when it’s dark out.

Besides the benefit of safety in numbers, getting involved in a running group can also be a great time, thus a wonderful way to make friends! An added bonus is you already know that you obviously have something in common – a love of running! Not to mention, your networking opportunities would skyrocket, too. Plus, what’s the fun of running without a little friendly competition. What a great way to train for a race! Additionally, for you single ladies (and gents!) who are looking, joining a running group would be a great way to find romance while doing what you love – running! What better way is there to find someone who has the same interests and lifestyle?

Most running groups strive to include options for runners of all abilities, so don’t think running clubs are only for those who have a record breaking pace or only run marathons.

To keep this post balanced, I also tried to consider the downside to joining a running group:

You do have to pay a fee, but if you run in races, you typically get a discount for being a member for each race


I couldn’t really think of any honestly. Obviously, if the criteria above don’t seem appealing to you, then you shouldn’t plan on joining one. If you love, love, love running solo, obviously joining a running group wouldn’t be for you.

I think I’m going to try it out. I’d still be able to run alone, but I’d also have days to run in groups as well. And if I’m going to be training for the Gasparilla Half Marathon in February, I think I’d get in a lot more road time training with a group.

How many of you are already in a running club? If you don’t run, are you part of another fitness club/group (besides a gym)?


10 Responses

  1. I love my running club. I joined back in May and they have been so motivating during my long runs for this training season. I'm so grateful for the motivation and support they provide!

  2. I'm a member of LRC and have done their group runs. They are very nice. In the spring they also have a Catch the Wave and Ride the Wave program to prepare for Lake Run. They also have TNAM which is a thursday night run and the mileage adds up to a marathon after a certain amount of weeks. Let alone all the other meet up times to run any pace/distance you want.

    Being a member gives you a chance to earn circuit points, get the newsletter, the online forum, and if you volunteer a bit you can get prizes (based on circuit and volunteer points) at the LRC banquet in Feb. We don't do grup runs often, but it's nice to have the option. IMO it's worth the $, and you get a Tshirt when you are a new member with your registration. Just make sure to resign up before March cause that's when circuit points restart. 🙂


  3. I recently joined a running group for many reasons. I wasn't making any progress on my own, I liked the idea of running with others, and I wanted to train for a half marathon. If your Gasparilla half is the same as my Gasparilla half, I think we're training for the same race. 🙂

  4. i think it sounds awesome! We have some around here, but the closest one is still 30 minutes away and that's where they run, too, so it's not really convenient for us.

  5. Many years ago, I was a member of the Davenport, IA Family Y, a huge, wonderful Y. I knew many members of a running club, but I never joined, too much of a loner. However, they were really friendly, fun people and often ran with me in races and offerred great advice when I had ankle pain etc. If you are NOT a loner, go for it:-)

  6. I think I would love to run with a group. My husband, however, prefers to run on his own!

  7. Great post! I've always thought about joining a running group but right now I don't have the money. I definitely need the motivation!

  8. Spooky, I started writing about my running club last night but was too tired write coherently.
    I joined a running club with a bit of trepidation but it's turned out to be really awesome. My fitness and agility increased noticably and when I was injured I was able to help out with marshalling and things which gave me the warm fuzzies and stopped some of the self pity.
    And if you reeealllly want to look on the bright side, the fee (which is usually fairly reasonable) will motivate you to go – if you're a scrooge like me 🙂

  9. I have often wished that I had friends to workout with. Maybe I should look into a running group.

  10. Running groups are awesome for motivation. I loved training with Team in Training for my first marathon and I’ve always toyed with the idea of joining DC Road Runners, but sometimes I get nervous about super intense/fast runners. Another thing to look into is if your local running store has a running group. Our store has one and it’s free and they meet once a week…it’s a great way to get your run in AND meet new people 🙂

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