Marathon Monday: The Benefits of Group Training

Until very recently, I rolled solo-dolo when it came to all my runs. And while I still definitely enjoy plugging into my music and using my run as “Zen Kristen” time, I’ve started to dip into group running recently with the Crew and Nike’s Discovery Runs out of the Bucktown running store. It’s a fun way for me to combine socializing and working out (not unlike Sweatworking, am I right?)

benefits of running with a group marathon

My friend Hannah and me after running the Chicago Spring Half on Sunday!

But when training for a marathon, group runs become so much more than just having someone to talk to.

I’m super excited to start training with Nike’s Marathon Crew this summer, but since I haven’t actually undergone group training for a marathon myself (small detail, soon to be changed), I reached out to a couple of my favorite Chicago running experts to see what exactly they think makes group training for a marathon such a good idea. Here’s what they had to say:

From Jessica Ni Murphy of BibRave:

jessica murphy bibrave

“Marathon training with a group has been life changing for me and [my husband] Tim. For the past 4.5 years we’ve both trained solo, which had its perks. You can leave right from your doorstep and run whenever you want. But, after training with a group this past Spring we are total converts. Not only did group training power us through the worst winter training ever in Chiberia, but it also drove us both to run faster. We each cut 7-8 minutes off our Boston Marathon PRs, Tim set an outright PR as well. Also, the company of other runners made speed work and long runs much more tolerable. We were constantly pushed by others during our weekly speed workouts. And time flew by so much faster on long runs when we were chatting with others, catching up on news from the week, and also sharing in each others’ ups and downs of training.
I learned quickly that the marathon is much more about mental strength and motivation than physical ability. The power of the training group makes this key component that much easier!”
From Lenka Kollar of Healthy Fit Goddess:
ntc crew after 20 mile race group training for marathon
(with the NTC marathon training crew after their 20 mile run- Lenka is in pink on the far right!)
“Group training for a marathon holds you accountable and makes the process more fun. While training for the Chicago Marathon last year, I looked forward to our long run Saturdays because it meant meeting up with friends. Doing long runs on my own was much less motivational.”
Aside from what these lovely ladies said about accountability, socializing, and making the time go by faster, joining a marathon training crew often gives you a boatload of benefits that you just wouldn’t have access to if you chose to go it alone.
For one thing, a marathon group gives you the chance to pick other people’s brains about race and training advice, something that’s especially helpful for your first marathon. Your marathon leader is probably a veteran and will have tons of words of wisdom for you. Also, many marathon groups bring in product demos (shoes, clothes, fuels, etc) for you to try out before the big day, so you can see what works best for you! And finally, on actual marathon day, many training groups (especially if you’re running with a charity group) have some race day perks, like a pre-race breakfast, private gear check, and post-race massages. Sign me UP.
Running is usually thought of as a lonely, soloist sport, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With the support of a training group, you’ll get through the marathon training and race both stronger and with a tight knit group of friends at the end.
Do you prefer training solo or in a group? What do you think are the best benefits of running in a group? Let us know in the comments!
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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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