One of my favorite aspects of my 12 year career on a cross country team was the friendships with teammates which were solidified during long runs, on race days, and at running camps. Running is never boring when you have teammates to encourage you and provide much needed support. However, I also enjoy the solitude provided when running alone.
When running in a group, teammates quickly become friends. They offer motivation and encouragement during difficult workouts. Motivated by my talented teammates, I never wanted to be the one left behind. However, it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the group mentality and find yourself running at a slower or faster pace than you should because you want to stay with the group. When I was at large invitationals in high school, it was always fun to meet up with my former teammates who I no longer ran with and talk about all the fun times we had together. Teammates can also be benchmarks for races because you are practicing with those who will later be competing with you on race day. This strategy allows you to know who you should be running with and who should you will need to beat. If you are not on a team, there are always local runs going on that would be great to join in on! Encourage your friends to come out and run with you!
When I got older, I learned that I also enjoyed running by myself. I love running alone because I am free to let my heart decide when and where to go. During these solitary runs, I enjoy listening to music and letting the beat of the music push me forward. I also like using this time to reflect on things that are going on in my life. Running alone is a great stress reliever for me as I can release tension and give my mental energy a rest. Running alone allows me to run at my pace without pressure from others to run faster or slower than I would like. Caution - If you run alone, make sure that you run in safe areas and that somebody knows where you are, so that you will be safe during your run.
Because I run, I have come to appreciate the value of running with my team, as well as the pleasure of running alone.