Blisters 3 min read

The benefits of running in a group or with a partner

The benefits of running in a group or with a partner The benefits of running in a group or with a partner The benefits of running in a group or with a partner

Running has long been considered a largely solo activity, but it is increasingly coming to be seen as a sociable group activity, partly as a result of organised group events like parkrun. Today, there are more than 8 million people signed up to parkrun all over the world – and many more who will run in other organised events, or their own informal groups of friends.

The physical benefits of running are well known, but running as part of a group or with a partner can augment the lesser-known positive mental effects of exercise, as well as providing consistent motivation and accountability that can help maximise your physical performance. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of running in a group or with friends.

Getting motivated

We all know that two of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a running routine are in the mind: getting started and keeping going. It’s a question of motivation, and this is something that is significantly easier to achieve when running with friends than when running alone.

Collective energy and enthusiasm is often infectious, and can help inspire you to push yourself to achieve your goals. The camaraderie, encouragement and accountability that comes with running with friends or a group can help you stick to your running routine – especially on those days when you’re feeling a bit lazier than usual! Knowing that others are expecting you to show up at a certain time can be a powerful incentive that you just can’t get from running solo.

Being part of an organised event like parkrun can even take these aspects of group running to the next level. Some participants have found novel ways of motivating themselves and their friends, such as the parkrun Alphabet – a self-set challenge to complete a parkrun in 26 locations, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet!


Pushing your performance

Running alongside others naturally spurs you on and generally causes you to perform at a higher level than you would on your own – whether that be through a sense of friendly competition or a desire to keep up with the pace of your fellow runners. The physical benefits can include achieving faster speeds, improved endurance and enhanced levels of fitness.

In the context of parkrun, the organised nature of the event can enhance this sense of friendly competition; each run you complete is timed and entered into the online parkrun rankings, allowing you to compare your times against other runners and feel a sense of achievement as you see yourself improve and achieve new personal bests.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in structured training sessions such as interval training, tempo runs and hill workouts, the practicalities of these are often made easier by having someone else to help time you or improve specific aspects of your performance.

A social scene

Running (and exercise generally) is, in and of itself, a boon to your mental health, but can be even more so if you are running with your friends or as part of a group; the act of running becomes not just exercise, but a social event that helps maintain and build meaningful friendships.

Joining a running group can open the doors to meeting like-minded individuals, thereby fostering the sense of community and belonging that is such an important part of mental wellbeing. Not only that, but your friends can provide emotional support during challenging runs or periods of self-doubt, giving you the vital reassurance that could be just what you need to stay motivated. Together you can celebrate each other’s achievements, share advice and – above all – enjoy each other’s company.

Staying safe

Running – especially if your preferred running time is late at night or early in the morning – has a certain amount of risk attached, and lone runners are more vulnerable to potential dangers. Running in a group can act as a deterrent to anyone who might seek to target a solo runner, as well as making you more visible to motorists if your running route involves crossing any roads. So if a sense of security and personal safety are things that you worry about, running with friends or an organised group might be just the thing for you.

Let’s get together…

If you think group running might be up your street – and none of your friends seem too keen on running, or you just think you’d prefer the size and ritual of an organised event – then why not take a look at some online resources? parkrun has thousands of events all over the world (so you can even take part on holiday), and you can also find running groups near you via Run Together. Good luck!