Running alone can be a lovely thing. It can allow you to focus and fine tune any stride or form issues you might be concerned with. It’s also a great opportunity to work out any stress or issues you might be having. Nothing like going for a 1-2 hour run and just thinking through a problem.

But sometimes you want to run with friends.

Coming up with a distance (or pace) can always be a concern. Not everyone is comfortable enough to head out for a 10 mile run on any given Saturday.

This past weekend, I was looking to get around 15 miles and wanted to run with some friends. Our plan was to get a 9 mile run in as a group. We would meet at a Golden Gate Park at 8 am for a 9 mile out and back. I showed up at 7 to get in a few miles before to get my desired distance.

Tip: having fresh legs introduced to the group for your later miles can keep the energy high.

As the group gathered at 8 a.m. and 5.5 miles already logged, it seemed like the group was leaning towards a 6 mile distance. It sounded fine with me as I just wanted to run with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

We did an out-and-back and my watch had just 12.5 miles. I was feeling okay and was fine with stopping, but a buddy asked if I wanted to log a few more. “I could do another 3.” We headed out for some more miles and I ended up with close to 16 miles.

I’m glad there was someone in the group that was looking to run some extra as I was ready to call it a day short of my original plan.

Here are some tips to organize a group run with various distances:

  • Choose a central meeting point.
  • Plan several out-and-back (or loops) to the meeting spot, allowing people to jump in or out.
  • Change the route. Just because you are circling back, doesn’t mean the route has to be the same each time.
  • Encourage others to jump in throughout the run. If someone wants to do a 3-mile run of a 12 mile run, ask people to show up later in the run to have fresh legs at various points in the run.
  • Coordinate an “after run gathering.” If you meet at coffee spot, or have one close by, it’s a great way to encourage people to run the later miles and fun to celebrate a weekend run with friends.

Here is how my Saturday looked:

5.5 miles alone
6.5 miles with group of 5+
1.25 miles with group of 3
2.5 miles with group of 2
15.75 total miles (coffee with 3 after wards)

All while meeting back at a central location where we had all parked. Thankfully, Golden Gate Park is big enough that the route was always something different.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Do you prefer to run alone or with a group? Or both?