I love to be alone. It is where I gain my energy and find my ‘center’. As a classic INFP* personality running allows me all of the wonderful benefits discussed earlier but more importantly running allows me the time to be alone and recharge, a prerequisite for me to be a happy, healthy, functioning, human being. Besides being a meditative experience, running alone can provide an opportunity to train in ways not available in groups. You can focus on breathing, form, and pace, for example.
Running solo can also help you focus on a specific goal pace. If you always run with a group, you may be holding yourself back. The opposite can also be true. Running with a group that is too fast, or pushes you to run more miles than you may be ready for may put you at risk for developing an injury or burning out.
I encourage those of you who stick to groups to give running solo a try. When running alone, make sure you stay safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If you can’t bear the thought of taking a cell phone with you (which I recommend, as you never know if you will encounter someone on your route who might need your help), tell a friend or family member which route you plan on taking and what time they can expect you to return.
- Wear a watch! You don’t have to time yourself, just check once in a while to make sure you don’t lose track of time.
- Make sure to carry some sort of identification. A company called Road I.D. makes awesome customizable bands that have plenty of room for your name, and an emergency contact or two. These bands can also double as a medical alert bracelet. I went so far as to include my blood type. If you take certain medications or have serious medical conditions, it might be a good idea to include them on your band.
- When running in low light conditions, make sure to wear reflective gear. One of my favorite items is this minimalistic reflective vest. You can find one at running specialty stores. If a vest isn’t your thing, an armband or a light that clips on is a great choice, too. The awesome thing about a reflective vest or clip-on light is that you can wear them over any of your items in your running wardrobe without the need to purchase new gear.
There are times where running with a partner or group is preferable, especially for getting out on the trail on days when I’d rather hit the snooze button than slog through the liquid sunshine Oregon is known for. I also love running with a group or a partner because it pushes me to go farther and faster. However, there are many things I love about running solo that provides a challenge I can only get by tackling the trail by myself.