Reading an article recently about the merits of running with a group or solo, I was struck by how much is written, said or prescribed about running. I found this puzzling, considering it is perhaps the simplest and purest form of sport you can do.
The article took the form of a debate and the advocate for running alone argued that running is the ultimate ‘me’ time. Solo runners can decide when to put on their shoes and run, for however long they like, whilst contemplating their innermost thoughts without the distractions of a chatterbox companion. On the other hand, the proponent for club running argued that running with a group improves performance, provides companionship and motivates runners on those days when it's really hard to get out the front door.
There are literally millions of words written about running. There are a huge number of magazines and websites devoted to the subject and you can find articles about anything running related. Trail Runner magazine for example, tells you how to get uphill faster and there are a staggering 346 shoes reviews on the Runners World website. You can also debate the benefits of running with music, chart your runs and compare the latest apps or energy drinks.
But do we really need all this advice? Doesn’t it complicate a simple sport to have to worry about whether we have the correct shoes for our step or the perfect downhill technique? For me, the beauty of running is the fact most people can put one foot in front of the other fast enough to make their heart pump. The only equipment you really need is running shoes and a sports bra. The rest is up to you. Too much information can be off-putting. It used to make me feel that I was not a ‘proper’ runner because I didn’t, for example, record my time or wear compression tights.
So getting back to the solo v group running article; for me the debate misses the point, you don’t have to do one or the other. You can run however you want. Personally I find meeting up with the group once a week has helped to increase my distance and I have tried and failed enough times to know I needed Shona’s beginner’s course to get me running in the first place. Sometimes however, if I wake up early, I like to creep out of the house and take an unscheduled run through deserted streets. And that’s the beauty of running; it fits into your life. You don’t need to stick to a timetable or be told what to wear or who to run with. And if goals, gadgets and groups are your thing, that is also fine. It’s your run.
Forget the rules: Enjoy the run