It goes without saying that running with a partner, or a group, provides more benefits than repercussions, yet it is not exactly a necessity for you to become a talented athlete. It is okay to run alone, casual runners may even prefer it to running with a partner, and sometimes running with your headphones in may be your ‘go-to’ and I would be lying if I said I didn’t do some runs solo whilst playing music. However, If you want to develop your running: run further, faster and love it more and more – running in a group will certainly get you there quicker.
For example, take a group of 5 runners. What are the chances of them all being at exactly the same ability? Next to none. Some may be fitter than you, some of them may be slower than you, but that’s the whole point; in workouts you’ll have people to chase and people to run from, a great way to achieve that extra couple percent benefit from a session. Even if you were just easy running, you all get to run together and talk whilst doing what you enjoy, it almost makes you forget about your own running and makes the easy runs feel even easier.
There is a reason Collegiate Cross Country Teams in America are outstanding compared to the equivalent around the world: their team mentality. They push themselves in workouts because their peers are there, they turn up to easy runs and long runs and gym sessions because if they miss it then all their team will know. If they don’t put 100% into their training they do that in fear of letting down their team mates at big races, which is a huge incentive to not fall behind. The amount of people you run with is certainly a huge psychological factor; the more people counting on you and expecting you to be their, the more likely you are to turn up and train hard, the more likely you are to achieve your running goals (whatever that may be).
In short, to make your workouts harder, your easy runs easier and your motivation greater, you’d better run with other people.