Sometimes I don’t like group runs

I have been a part of running groups in two communities now, and I have met some of the best people through them.

I’ve been too busy to organize group runs through Western Wind Running Club the way I did when we first moved to Wyobraska (glad the group is at least serving as a clearinghouse for local race info), so I was excited when half-gazelle-half-man Aaron Carrizales got some Saturday morning group runs going via Bluffs Running Club in prep for the Monument Marathon.

For the first run, about 20 people showed up. Last weekend, the turnout was down considerably, perhaps because of the United Way Color Dash later that morning.

Sometimes, when the running group is smaller, a filtering process takes effect that makes group running less fun for some of us.

Think about “runners,” and what do you picture?

Thin, speedy people?

Yeah, that’s not me. (I’d qualify for the Athena division in races that offered it.)

That description doesn’t fit a lot of runners.

But I worry that the prevailing stereotype might keep some people away from running groups.

“I’m not fast,” a runner may think. “I don’t belong in a running group.”

When that slower runner shows up for a group run, gets outpaced by the rest of the group, and winds up running solo, they may think “Why am I bothering to run with a group? If I’m going to run by myself, I might as well run at a time and place of my choosing.”

So the slower runners filter out, the running group average stays fast, new slower runners have no one else to run with, and the process repeats.

Depending on conditions, the distance, and how I feel, my pace ranges from 10 to 14 minutes per mile.

Here is what that looked like at the last group run.

At the start of the run.

At the start of the run.

One mile into the run. Se those teeny dots up ahead? Those are the closest runners in the running group.

One mile into the run. Se those teeny dots up ahead? Those are the closest runners in the running group.

It can be a bit demoralizing to be left behind in the dust.

So I made myself forget it was a group run and did my own thing – walked when I wanted to, stopped to take pictures when I wanted to, thought my own little thoughts.

A Wyobraska "ditchbank" run can be quite pleasant. The only drawback is that if you meet a ditchrider or farmer, the canal road is only one way, so you may have to yield.

A Wyobraska “ditchbank” run can be quite pleasant. The only drawback is that if you meet a ditchrider or farmer, the canal road is only one lane, so you may have to yield to the vehicle.

I’m going to keep showing up for group runs. Someday, there might be another person who runs my pace.

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw

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