Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Benefits of Group Running

To be honest, I was never a big fan of run clinics.

I was terrified that the fast runners would laugh at me or be annoyed that they had to keep an eye on a slowpoke. I was afraid that they would think that I wasn't good enough to tag along.

But I was always curious and eventually curiosity got the best out of me.

Last year's MPIB run clinic sessions were a first for me and I pretty much enjoyed myself. There were 2 options of a 6km or a 4km run but somehow I always ended up doing the 6KM runs, doing my best to keep Kew and Khay Ann within sight. Fast fellas, they are!

GCAM run clinic group pic before run on 23rd February 2013.

Knowing that the same fellas were attending the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2013 (GCAM) run clinic as well (it's good to see familiar faces!) I found my sleep-deprived self driving to Lake Gardens on Saturday mornings.

Most of the time I run on my own because of various reasons, but social group runs are fantastic for some motivation and serves as an encouragement booster.

1. Common goal or purpose. 
We share the same objectives like training for a specific race of any distance, improving our pace and form. Having an informal forum to discuss your concerns and ideas is great.

Even having breakfast together after the run or checking out eye candy count as a purpose, too!

2. Motivation boost. 
Running together keeps you at your desired pace, gives you a challenge to keep up with the fast runners as you may not want to be left behind and you know you'll put in the effort to stick as close as you can to the group.

Chatting to one another while running sometimes takes away the pain. Before you know it, your run will be done!

And when you're finally done with your run, you'll find yourself secretly patting yourself on the back for a job well done and going home with a huge smile on your face.

Group runs allow everyone to stay close to each other as much as possible. :D

3. Safety. 
Why run alone in the dark when it's safer to run in a group?

I have to be certain that the night isn't too dark yet for my evening runs. Even waking up early for morning runs can prove to be a tad bit dangerous as it is still dark. It's frustrating, really, and there's just so much I can do on the treadmill!

Safety in numbers: Some runners were mugged along the way before, or even raped! So it's best to be cautious.

4. Creative stimulation. 
Somehow running along with people makes you crack your brains harder to create conversation. Running buddies are also good to share your thoughts and ideas with AND get the encouragement to sign up for your next race!

I've overheard runners chatting about everything else under the sun before while on the run, instead of talking about running. It's funny how we tend to talk about running when we're not running, and we talk about everything except running when we're running. :)

5. Expanding social circle. 
You know you want to know more like-minded runners you can talk to about running and everything else. They're on the same wave length and they know just how you feel when you've skipped a training run or when you're injured and you can't run ...

Besides, what's the point of being just friends on Facebook when you can be real friends, too? :)

Bumped into Julian Chan, a saxophonist, who was leading a beginners' group run that morning.

I gathered a few thoughts (which reflects the points above) from some of our GCAM 2013 run clinic participants on why they attend group runs:
  • Both Lina and Nick joked it's so they could meet some 'famous' people. Nick also said that the run clinic / group runs complements his training plan and it's a lot more fun than running solo all week.
  • Weng Kiat said that it's the goal to work (towards it) together and friendship that keeps him going or motivated, regardless outside or during the group run.
  • Vun Hau said that it is to learn from each other and the motivation to go further.
  • Choon Yuen happily believes that it motivates him to run further, longer and faster. And of course, the cookies and chit chat with the many 'sifu's ("masters') gave him some insights on how to build up his runs. [Ah, more free cookies for you! :)]
  • Khay Ann opines that it provides excellent interaction opportunity for common 'crazy hobbyists' to share experiences, ranging from very serious professional stuff to candid amusing running follies.
    "I've always wanted to have fun doing group running as it heightens the basic purpose and spirit of a boundless yet caring running activity among runners together... the thought of it is just so pleasing... but at times, the timing isn't always right," he muses.
    "If GCAM run clinic is held on weekday evenings, I would have given it a miss. Fortunately, Captain Jamie is so kind as to organize it on Saturday mornings. So, the day, time, venue, fellow jovial runners n captain, running programmes and routes all add up to "YES, I AM IN!"
  • Kew says "I'm still a rookie in terms of running. Running in groups make runs easier & fun. Besides getting tips & coaching from season running gurus Dato Jamie, going in groups will motivate each other to go further, further, furtheeeeeer & furtheeeeeeeeeeer. Of course, getting to meet the crazy bunch as well!"

Our silly grins reflect our happiness! :D

Sometimes it can be intimidating for first timers but here are 3 tips which I think would help:

1. If you're shy, bring a friend to accompany you for the first session.
2. If you know who is organising or is in charge of the group run, email or approach them beforehand to voice your concerns, if any, be it your speed or the distance. The group leader will tell you what to do and keep an eye on you so that you won't be left behind, or get lost.
3. Smile and introduce yourself to the group, don't be unfriendly. They'd be more than happy to have you around!

Clean shoes after Chinese New Year.

You may even be caught unawares in a candid picture. :)

Further information on the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2013 run clinic sessions, tips and laughter, visit the Facebook group.

Other related posts:
GCAM Run Clinic Sessions


  1. Nicely written. Oh and I forgot to mention that it's also fun seeing others suffer along with me on those blasted uphill stretches ... hahaha!

    1. yeah, I would've chicken out from the hills if not for you guys. And would've totally not want to forum anything faster too. But gotta keep up n not lose sight of the team members, so that was a motivation to run and run...

      Plus, giving a commitment to join made me wake up early despite the early hours. If running alone, I would've settled for a late morning (think 8am) even for an LSD run

      I'm still terrified about keeping up with you guys though and please don't be annoyed (this is for the sweeper ^_^) when im too slow ya. :-D

      p.s. Meeting femes ppl definitely a motivation too. :-P

    2. "forum" in the comment above is actually run...

      Anyway, if I may add more...
      I actually hated my 1st group run experience. Not due to any fault of the members or sweeper but I hated being asked whether I was ok and can keep up every 5 minutes. :-S

      But thank goodness I decided to hive it a try again & love the subsequent experience do far. :-)

    3. Lina: yeah, not all group runs are enjoyable, especially if you can feel a hint of reluctance having you as part of the group! But no worries la, I'm sure we'll continue to have fun with this one!!

      LOL @ Nick! I think we are starting to have a collection of photos of pained/concentrated expressions while you guys are doing the workouts!