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The pros and cons of running in groups

A UPMC Health Plan health coach’s perspective

“Should I join a running group or just train on my own?” That’s a question I hear all the time—and especially when the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half-Marathon and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Full-Marathon are on the horizon. The truth is, there isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on what you are looking for as a runner. Everyone is different.

To help put it in perspective, I’ll share my experience from both angles. As an experienced endurance athlete, I’ve trained for a variety of races. I’ve done half- and full-marathons, ultramarathons, and even an Ironman! I’ve worked with groups and on my own over the years. The list below provides a quick overview of my experience of running in groups vs. individual training.

The pros and cons of running with a group


  • Connects you with other people who have the same interest
  • Creates a sense of being in a community
  • Creates accountability for your workouts
  • Motivates you to keep going with added group support
  • Fosters friendly competition that helps you push your limits
  • Provides built-in guidance through more experienced runners


  • Can create scheduling issues that can lead to missed runs
  • Can come with a financial commitment in the form of participation or organization fees
  • Can hurt you come race day as running solo may feel foreign at first

The pros and cons of running on your own


  • Allows you to run at your own pace without worrying about the needs or endurance of others
  • Provides a flexible schedule to ensure that you don’t miss runs
  • Leaves you free of financial commitments to a running group


  • Can result in a lack of motivation to get out and run
  • Can lead to missed training days more often since you are not accountable to others

As you can see, running in groups vs. individual training is all about your preferences—and you may not know your preferences until you get started. My suggestion is to give both options a try to see what feels best for you. The good news is that you may be able to do a little bit of both as you prepare for race day. So, try it all out and see what feels right!