What do high school cross country, collegiate running and putting in the miles as life-long runner have in common? You’ll always do better and enjoy the sport more when training with a group.

Maybe it goes back to the origins of running when primitive hunters chased down animals in groups, tirelessly wearing down their quarries. How ever it started, running is indeed a group sport, and we’re all the better for it.

Olympian Leo Manzano (far left) finishes up a 12-mile run with Ready to Run’s Jennifer Hall and Drew Soucy (far right).

In high school cross country, that may take the shape of friendly rivalries, with runners pushing each other in workouts to achieve new heights. Or faster members of the team may help to pace those behind them.

For those of us in the work force, putting in our miles, and hitting the trails with friends on the weekends, the competitiveness also applies. What’s more, lifelong friendships are forged. The time spent running together not only supports our dedication to staying fit, but it also provides a forum for talking about what’s on your mind.

Here are just a few more of the added pluses of running with a group:

  • It makes you more accountable—when you plan on meeting someone for a track workout or a long run, you’re more likely to do it.
  • Long runs are more fun and pass more quickly when there’s lively banter going on.
  • You learn and try things you wouldn’t on your own. Maybe the group wants to do a steep rocky trail run, when you would have preferred a flat five miles on the road: leaving your comfort zone is a good thing when it comes to fitness.

All of these components together tend to bolster your training in a positive way and make you a better runner.

“I like training with a group because it holds me accountable,” says Ready to Run store manager Jennifer Hall.  “I’ve tried training alone and as disciplined as I think I might be, training with a group has always given me the best results. Plus, we’re out there running for a long time so it’s nice to have company. There are no phones, no social media, just some good conversation during a run!”

If you don’t currently run with any groups and would like to join one, try the Austin Runners Club—here’s a list of their group runs. Gibert’s Gazelles, founded by the charismatic coach Gilbert Tuhabonye is another one, which includes the full spectrum from average runners to elites. View their training groups here.

Saturday, September 16 at 7:00 a.m. Cedar Park XC Community Fun Run (Two Miles) at Cedar Park High School. Sunday, September 17, CASA Superhero Run 5K, 8:00 a.m. at Domain Central Park. Also Sunday, September 17, LIVESTRONG Honor 5K and 10K 7:30 a.m. at Auditorium Shores in Downtown Austin.