Behind the Fear Lies Sadness: Why I Run Solo - Trail Runners Journey

Behind the Fear Lies Sadness: Why I Run Solo

Two words that strike fear in the very heart of my soul: Group Run

But why? Group Runs are fun, everyone has a great time, and it’s a great way to socialize! All paces are welcome!!!

But, what is the reality?

At the start the group forms, starts to run and then the obvious happens. There’s the group pace and then there’s mine. The group pace is not my pace and my pace isn’t the group pace. Do I force myself to keep up with a group that’s going too fast for me or do I go my own pace and run by myself? I choose the latter because I don’t want to run myself into exhaustion.

So here I am running by myself and seeing the group merrily trot off with me being left further and further behind. The sadness hits and with their speed being a reminder of how slow I am it’s hard to hold back the tears. And sometimes I can’t. I feel as if I don’t fit in. I wish I was faster then, maybe I’d fit in. If this was a social run, then why am I alone. Again. I’m left with the feeling of “why did I come?”

Not to worry, we’ll wait until you catch up.

While that sounds all well and good, it’s not a great feeling knowing that the group is waiting for me many times throughout the run. I don’t know what they are thinking, but I know what I am feeling and the sadness hits again. After I catch up to the group, they quickly run off and I’m left alone. Again. While I get it that the faster runners don’t want to run with someone slower, it doesn’t prevent the sadness from coming.

If I wasn’t so slow, then maybe someone would want to run with me.

Even though a group run is meant to be with like minded individuals who chat, have some laughs, get to know each other better, it seems it’s not the case for everyone. There are some group leaders who will circle back during the run to make sure all is okay. While I know that I’m not being forgotten, it isn’t the same as being with the group.

As a result, I decline group run invitations because it’s painful knowing that I probably will be the lone straggler of the group forcing everyone else to wait for me. Therefore, I do 99.9% of my running solo because then I can get lost within myself. In that moment and during that time I’m the strongest, fastest runner on the planet and it feels good. There’s no comparison to a group, it’s just me. I’m never left behind nor does anyone have to wait for me to catch up.

Then every once in a while something unexpected happens.

Someone at the start of the group run says “I’m running with you.” At first there’s feelings of guilt because I feel that I’m taking that person away from the run they really want to have. Then I am reminded that the person wants to run with me, it’s their choice. I’m happy, I’m humbled, and I have a fun run. It feels good to have someone’s company, to chat, and to maybe have a laugh. Sadly, due to circumstances, this isn’t the norm. It’s more of a rarity.

But what about races?

Races are different and I like going into races. In a race, it’s my race, my pace within a group of people. A race isn’t supposed to be a social event, and when something social happens, it’s a bonus. The strange thing is that with a good number of the races I enter, I end up running with someone for pretty much a good part of the race, if not the whole thing. Races, for me, can end up being a social event even though that’s not the plan.

Am I the only one who feels the sadness, the fear when it comes to a group run and because of that chooses to run solo?

8 responses

  1. Billie Lou Tindall says:

    Thank you Sherri for putting in words all my feelings about group runs. After many years, I still experience the fear and sadness but have come to terms with “what is” and move on. As you know once we get out there we are free to feel our own freedom at our pace. Have a great race year!

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Billie Lou. Now that I have a coach, I look forward to my training because it’s for me. No fitting in with a group.
      Have an awesome running season!

  2. Angie says:

    Sherri you are definitely NOT Alone or too slow. Id love to be able to run the distance you do but too many injury i just can’t go as far or as fast as i want to do.

  3. Missy says:

    Well said Sherri!
    I have you to thank for giving me the confidence during our run at Chikakakoo a few years ago now. I was intimidated to run and thought I will not be able to keep up, but you have such a great attitude and just said so what!! You reassured me that I didn’t need to be fast and reminded me to just enjoy it. And that was a group run, a small group but a group nonetheless. So yup good things can come from group runs! Thanks for inspiring me and keep doing you!

  4. Kassy says:

    When I started out running distances 5k and over I thought it would be fun to go on a group run. Unfortunately I fell into the middle of the group. The fast group was too fast and the slow group too slow and there was no one in the middle to keep me company so I gave up with the group runs in town. However I did venture to try a group trail run as I thought surely there would be someone closer to my pace on a trail, nope. The ladies were only running 3 miles and slower pace than I liked and then there were the guys running the distance I wanted to run, 6, but I knew they ran much faster than me. I thought it would be a good push for me to tail the guys. I think I was fine the first mile then I realized the pace would be hard to maintain for another 5 but I was absolutely terrified that I would get lost so I barely managed to stick with the guys! lol so fortunate that I didn’t end up with an injury after that one. There’s nothing wrong with running slow, even at a slower pace you’re doing more than many others. I think with any fitness endeavor one has to know thy self.

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