Solo Vs. Social Runner – Which Are You?

runnersMany peo­ple join a sport for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet like-mind­ed ath­letes, to make friends, and expe­ri­ence the cama­raderie of a team. Oth­ers opt for solo-spe­cif­ic sports just for the health of it, or per­haps as a tem­po­rary escape from dai­ly stress­es. Run­ning is unique in that it is eas­i­ly adapt­able for a per­son with either goal in mind.

Social run­ners are easy to spot, as they are the grand major­i­ty. The most pop­u­lar race dis­tances, 5 and 10K, are made up of these fun-lov­ing run­ners who are often laugh­ing with their friends at the start­ing line, wear­ing sil­ly cos­tumes, and gab­bing with peo­ple they met on the run at the food stands a few feet after the fin­ish line. There are many run­ning pro­grams — char­i­ty and non — for social run­ners to join and meet oth­ers like them­selves. These pro­grams tend to go over quite well, and result in pop­u­lar paved paths being tak­en over on week­nights by a rol­lick­ing group jog­ging most­ly in pairs slight­ly spread out from one anoth­er, chat­ting as though they were already around the table eat­ing piz­za and drink­ing beer togeth­er (which they very like­ly will do after the run).

Social run­ning is a beau­ti­ful thing. Meet­ing friends through exer­cise is an excel­lent way to set your­self up for suc­cess, as you’re far more like­ly to stick with the train­ing plan – and per­haps con­tin­ue run­ning long after the spe­cif­ic race or class is done – because you’ve built a nat­u­ral­ly inspir­ing and pos­i­tive net­work of active friends around your­self. Good for you!


Then there are the solo run­ners. Also very good peo­ple, don’t get us wrong, but def­i­nite­ly a dif­fer­ent breed. You may notice them as the indi­vid­u­als run­ning around the same cement path as the social run­ners – but in the oppo­site direction…and prob­a­bly star­ing at the ground. These folks are there to work out, not meet-and-greet. Or you may not notice them at all, as many solo run­ners opt for run­ning routes off the beat­en path, quite lit­er­al­ly, and will hit the trails or roads at times when far few­er peo­ple are out (like 4 a.m.). It’s not that solo run­ners have no sense of humor or aren’t friend­ly peo­ple over­all; many solo run­ners are extreme­ly kind, gen­er­ous, and out­go­ing peo­ple in oth­er walks of life.

Some, how­ev­er, use run­ning as an escape from the dai­ly grind. Per­haps it’s their time to let their mind unrav­el after a gru­el­ing long day at the office. Per­haps that per­son has been through a major life change late­ly and need the phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and time that run­ning offers to keep their body busy so they can work through things in their mind and heart. Per­haps they are a stay-at-home par­ent whose run is the only time of the day they have entire­ly to them­selves and they rev­el in the oppor­tu­ni­ty to final­ly hear only their own thoughts. What­ev­er their sto­ry, every solo run­ner has his or her rea­son for want­i­ng to be alone on the run. Solo run­ning can be a great way to get in touch with your phys­i­cal and men­tal body, relieve stress in a healthy man­ner, and learn to set and obtain goals all on your own. Few would argue that these are not impor­tant skills for any­one to learn.

Rec­og­niz­ing and embrac­ing which type of run­ner you are is the first step in build­ing a work­out plan that’s going to be the best for you. Some run­ners flit between the groups through­out their life, depend­ing on what they need from the sport. There’s noth­ing wrong with that. One of the great­est things about run­ning is that there are no rules. You can run in what­ev­er man­ner, direc­tion, pace, and dis­tance you choose. The end result is the same; you improve your health and feel better.