As an example, he pointed to Shalane Flanagan and what’s been named the Shalane Effect. She trained solo for much of her career, but after she joined the Bowerman Track Club in Oregon, she started achieving more, and so did the women she trained with. And Eliud Kipchoge, the fastest marathoner in the world, also trains with a group and does most of his workouts with them.
Stulberg said that even though joining a group run might take more time and effort than running solo, the benefits of running with others outweigh the lesser convenience.
Find a virtual running group
Still, for people in less populated areas or who have unusual schedules, running with others might be difficult. But technology can help.
In his latest book, “The Practice of Groundedness,” Stulberg has a section on “deep community,” which he defines as a sense of belonging. “What you’re really after is a sense of meaning and belonging, and you can get that virtually,” he said.
Stulberg knows a group of people who ran together in high school and now are scattered around the United States. He said they use a group text to support each other and check in with their runs.
My main running club, the Sub-30 Club, is organized through Facebook and has members from all over the world. And though some members meet in person, the group has daily check-in posts for people based loosely on the time of day they run. When I worked an early-morning shift and ran midafternoon, I would reply in the noon crew post. It’s not the same as making plans to meet some of those same friends for a run, but the group post does provide the accountability, support and community that Stulberg said were key benefits.
Even if you rely on a virtual community, there are benefits to running with people at least occasionally.
“If you can find the right in-person group, it’s better than a virtual group,” Stulberg said, but he added that virtual groups can also be great options. “Both can be true.”