Training for a marathon can be a daunting task, and many prefer partnering with a running buddy or training in a group to provide accountability and encouragement. However, for the individual who chooses to train alone, there can be many benefits to you.
Grow in Self Discipline
Running in a group provides an opportunity for social connection and accountability. Many people find this beneficial, but some prefer to run solo. Running alone requires strong self-discipline as there is no one else to urge the runner on. The benefit of making the choice day after day to stick to training without someone else urging the athlete on brings a sense of accomplishment.
Tackling a killer hill and pushing through the wall alone builds mental toughness resulting in a stronger, more confident runner. In a race, the individual cannot afford to rely on others, or they may not achieve their best performance. Achieving running goals through personal commitment and hard work is fulfilling to the runner as they cope with each new challenge on their own.
Run For Self-Discovery
Running alone also provides for deeper self-discovery in the training process. In a group, there is a temptation to match the pace or pattern of the rest of the runners. Alone, a runner will find their own pace and learn to read their body. This will help them to recognize when they need to refuel or hydrate, or if they are pushing their body too far.
In addition, group runs limit perception of the surroundings. Time and attention go to interacting with the other runners. Running alone allows the athlete to gain a richer appreciation of their environment, to think without distractions, or to tune out the world and unwind.
In "Perks of Running Solo or Social" on Runner's World.com, Michelle P. Maidenberg, Ph.D., M.P.H., psycotherapist to athletes indicated that running alone provides opportunity to really think and concentrate, or to clear the mind. Lone wolf runners are able to take a break from the world around them.
Run On Your Own Terms
Training for a marathon alone also provides the runner with the opportunity to run on his or her own terms. Running alone allows the individual to find and develop your own pace and form. It brings benefits of tailoring training and running goals to personal needs, with no need to coordinate times or fit to someone else's training schedule or pace. Just put on your shoes and go for a run!
Brendan Cournane, a running coach in Chicago, addressed the potential issues with running to a group pace: If the pace is too relaxed, the runner could become lazy and not push for an optimum performance. On the other hand, a group pace above the person's ability could result in injury or discouragement. The lone wolf runner finds his own motivation and inspiration for running.
Personal inspiration is a great motivator to push through when training for a marathon. There are numerous examples of runners who found inspiration in running. Terry Fox continued to run after cancer resulted in amputation of one of his legs. Kayla Montgomery, a senior at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina finds inspiration in running despite having multiple sclerosis.
These individuals persevered despite physical limitations, providing inspiration for themselves and others.
You're Never Truly Alone: Technology Keeps You In Touch
While the solo runner does not have another person running with them or helping them, they are never truly alone. With the use of social media and GPS technology, even the lone wolf can find encouragement and accountability as friends and family track their progress.
Wristband GPS devices, such as the Garmin Forerunner 310XT, provide tracking technology that records time and distance for the runner to track their progress in achieving running goals. Results of training runs can be uploaded, analyzed, and shared on social media for feedback from others.
With modern connectivity and technology, the person who prefers to train for a marathon alone can still get accountability, feedback, and encouragement.
Getting The Best Of Both Worlds
When training for a marathon, do consider the benefits of lone wolf running. The self-discipline of running alone builds a mental toughness that will be beneficial on race day, and it brings the satisfaction of pressing on toward the goal without outside influence.
Besides, the solitary night running experience is definitely self-enriching.
You don't have to run exclusively by yourself. Nor should you run only with a group. Split yourself evenly, and enjoy the best of both worlds!