There is pride to be found in the ability to smash out a long run by yourself - the 'loneliness of the long distance runner' and whatnot. But all it took was a teeny, tiny lockdown in the midst of a global pandemic to remind us how much we cherish the social aspect of endurance sports. And rightly so! Here are a few reasons why keeping training social will bring huge benefits.
If you want to go faster...
You've probably heard the saying: "if you want to go faster, go alone." Well, we officially call bullshit on that one. Our objection is a lot easier to understand if you come from the world of cycling where draft, slipstream and drag shape the reality of a ride. Very hard to reach the same speeds on a solo ride as you would do if you had a couple of mates with you. If you want to go fast, get in a peloton, a chain gang workout or a cheeky pace line. Can't beat it!
In running, those things have a tad less impact but there is still a priceless benefit to running with mates. Why else would they bother paying pacers in the top races in the world? Running with someone who is just that little bit faster than you can pull the best out of you and keep you honest in your effort.
If you want to go further...
Back to the saying: "if you want to go further, go together." This time, we agree wholeheartedly. If you've ever gone out for a long training session, you'll know that not all miles are created equal. Minutes are not all the same length. Sometimes, 10mins feels like 3 months. If you have not yet experienced this, you can look forward to that at some point in your career.
There is absolutely something to be said for smashing through those sessions alone. It builds character, it will steel your mind and it will go a long way in making you comfortable with the uncomfortable. However, training doesn't always have to be a grind. Take it from a professional triathlete! If you want to go further, grab a couple of mates and head out together. Have some banter, some laughs, some deep talks, and before you know it you'll be home again with some solid, honest hours in the bank.
Come together, right now
KOTWF running coach, Matt Welsh, leads The Stable in Battersea Park and swears by group sessions: "The single most important thing to keep sight of in training is enjoyment. Group sessions are a great way to do that. I would gladly sacrifice a bit of specificity if it means one of my athletes can run with other people in a nice, friendly atmosphere," he explains. We stand by this. We firmly believe that, these days, the 'no pain no gain' mentality touted on social media can lead athletes to train alone far more than they should. SUMMAT's & KOTWF's social outings - the Wednesday easy run, the Saturday ride out, the Sunday run club (Bakewell) and Monday nights in Brentford - try to provide Bakewell & Brentford's athletes with the opportunity to find the social side of their training. This time of year, as the weather gets sunnier, this is more important than ever.
So, the next time you feel like you're not in the mood to grind through another long run by yourself or spend a lonely few hours in the saddle, why not drop down to Bakewell and tag along with one of our outings? You only risk getting fitter with new friends and finding new routes and outstanding coffee. There's no catch.