The Joys of Solo Running

I’m writing this post as the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding so perfect timing right? A little bit of the introduction is specific to that but pretty dang quick we get right back to the topic at heart and that is solo running. Why it’s great, why you should do it and why always running with a partner might be holding you back.

There are so many reasons to run alone right now and no matter who you are or where you are it is probably the most responsible thing to do at the moment. Sure that’s avoiding getting sick, protecting others, following the rules but also so we can all keep running through this. If runners seem to be defying the rules by running in groups, even if you live with all those people it’s going to upset people who happen to see you. Those people will then get on Facebook, make all kinds of posts, get really upset and two days later running outdoors will be banned. So this seems like the perfect time to extol the virtues of running on your own. Sure the timing is convenient but running on your own, at least some of the time, is a great idea anytime here’s why!

It’s your run, your way

I think my nature is to be a bit of a lone wolf overall if given the choice. I do run with friends occasionally and family members too. Based on how that’s gone I’m not in any rush to start up with a running group. Here’s the thing as much as I like some aspects of running with others it’s always a compromise. We have to pick a pace and if we do it right neither of us will totally like it. Too fast for one and too slow for the other. Same as the route my family loves to run on the trail so that’s what we do even though I much prefer the road. Somedays in training I commit to some hard speed work but when I get out there I just can’t. Or if I agree to run with my mom I can’t give it my all if I’m feeling it that day. Even if it’s your day to choose the pressure to compromise is implied.

When I run on my own though I can change the route at the last minute if I want, I can walk the hills, go further, go faster and then take it real easy at the end if I want. I can sing along, take in the sites or be angry the whole time if that’s what I need that day. I get why people do love running in groups but for this alone I think everyone should do the odd solo run even if they don’t think they like it.

You can spend time alone without feeling lonely

I do like to spend some time alone, ideally a few hours everyday if I can get it. Others like honey not so much, though he deals well. Some people really struggle with feelings of loneliness even after a short time. Others need someone else to push them to do something hard. Experts do say that spending some time alone is good for your mental health which we will get into a bit later. Here’s the thing though running is a great way to spend time alone reaping all those benefits but in a very low key way. You get to have all your favorite songs, something to focus on and potentially a beautiful ever changing view.  

It’s a great time to problem solve

Life gets hard sometimes and there can be complex problems to solve and emotions to process. Sure you can share with your running buddy if you want but you’ll always be more honest with yourself. Plus we can think at well more than 10X the rate we can talk. That means you can do a lot more mental work in the same amount of time. Just today I solved a running problem while on a run. Just in case a fall marathon is going on this year and I decide I want to do it I’d like to stay on track. So I think I will sign up for a virtual option for my May 15k. How to get there though add one km a week to my long run or two? Well I figured out 1.5 km will work perfectly with the schedule. FYI it’s not always a complicated problem you have to solve but those work too!

You get to be selfish with your thoughts and everything else

Lots of us have lots of hats to wear on any given day. Worker, parent, child, student, housekeeper, chef and lots of others. That means that very rarely do we get to be selfish, hell some moms don’t even get to pee alone! When you go one a run by yourself you get to listen to what you want, go where you want as fast as you want. Take that time to revel in your selfish moment and enjoy not making any compromises for anyone. I think we all need that sometimes and running on your own is one of the only ways to get that sort of time.

It’s a perfect time to expand your horizons or learn something new

If you’re training for a long distance event you are going to spend lots and lots of time running. I like to listen to and watch documentaries but my partner not so much. So when I run I could indulge that passion, I don’t, I listen to terrible rap and country music from 10 years ago, but I could. You could become an expert on a topic, learn a language or be incredibly well informed. But… if you ran alone you could listen to radio documentaries, podcasts or language lessons. Not so if you’re chatting with a friend. I keep threatening to listen to podcasts, which I think would be perfect for long runs, maybe I’ll actually do it this year.

Wear what you want how you want and spit

Spoiler alert everyone cares at least a little bit about what others think so running, especially in a big group does change your comfort level. I honestly care more too when I’m with people about stuff that doesn’t matter. I do love me a good, cute running outfit most of the time though. Outside of the summer I don’t run or train as much. So all my workout gear is clean and I take the time to pick out cute outfits. In the summer I sometimes wear what is the least smelly thing, it’s still smelly but just less smelly than the rest. Often times the bottom doesn’t match the top and that’s cool, I’m not seeing anyone anyway. I also occasionally pick wedgies, spit, mop up boob sweat and fart. All cool on a solo run not so cool in a group though.

Honestly I see why people like to run with others, we are a social species after all. That and the right partner can push you to achieve new amazing things. But in times like this running on your own really is the best thing. There are a few magical properties about solo running that I think that we should all do it at least some of the time. Do you prefer solo runs or running with someone? What’s you favorite thing about running alone? Leave it in the comments please!

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