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Running Group Etiquette : Different Paces and Distances (Coaches Corner)


What is proper running group etiquette when dealing with different running paces and different distance goals? Find out on today’s Running Coaches Corner!

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Running Group Etiquette: Different Paces + Distances

What is proper running group etiquette when dealing with different running paces and different distance goals? Find out on today's Running Coaches Corner! @suzlyfe

In a perfect world, you and your friends would all run the same pace and the same distance. But it isn’t a perfect world, is it? 

Different Running Paces Within the Running Group

One of the most common issues within running groups and anxieties in setting up a group run is the anticipation of different running paces. Different running paces within a running group is a very valid concern!  The group should always run at the pace of the slowest runner. Because let’s face it, you can run at a slower-than-your-average pace for a LOT longer than you can run at a faster-than-your-average pace!

How to fix Running Groups with Different Running Paces

First and foremost, discuss pacing ahead of time; if you are multiple minutes apart, then this might not be the right group. You might just need to meet up for brunch afterwards! There is absolutely no shame in different running paces, just like there is no shame in running more or fewer miles. It is just the reality of your run!

If you have enough people, consider starting together and splitting the group up having runners split off into different pace groups or pairs. If you have a small group, but everyone is at a different pace, start together and have an out and back so that you can have the visual of seeing your friends for the encouragement or to check in with each other. 

Now, if you want to run with someone who has a TOTALLY different pace than you, why not try to create a workout out of it? Instead of meeting up for a long run, for example, you could do intervals where the faster runner slows down and the slower runner speeds up (think recovery and work intervals). This works best on a track, but can be done anywhere, particularly if there is the opportunity for a loop. 

Regardless of what you decide to do, start and end the run together. Faster runners can use the time to do strength work, rehydrate or refuel, or stretch out as they desire. They could even run back out to meet the others and run in with them. Or just hang out and gab! 

Banana Holster in a Flip Belt Runner

Make sure you have your banana holster 😀

Different Distances Within the Group

With everyone on different training plans, training for different races, or not training at all, a running group is bound to have a selection of distances to cover on a group run! This is actually a fairly easily solved problem, but it can require a little creativity.

How to Fix Running Groups with Different Distance Goals

This is when you might not start or end together, but try to run the majority of your run together. For example, when I lived downtown and was training for marathons, I would meet Erica outside her apartment 4 miles away, we would run a certain number of miles, and then we would finish either back where we started or closer to me so that she could finish out her miles or I could finish out my miles. Along the way, we would pick up others from the running group and all run together (just make sure you keep track of your miles!).

Always run with your phone, public transportation card, credit card, or cash. When I was coaching Chicago Endurance Sports, I would often run down to the store, run with the team, and then, depending on the number of miles, run back or take the El home. In a real pinch, or if I was for whatever reason not near the bus or train lines, I could call an Uber/Lyft/taxi. 

Coach Susie running with pace group during Chicago Endurance Sports 20 miler at the end of Marathon Training!

Pace group for the 20 miler with CES

Dealing with Different Paces and Different Distance Goals within a Running Group

Ok, so if you are dealing with different paces and different distances, you might just want to go to brunch. Or meet up at a particular place for that recovery/speed interval. Otherwise, someone is going to have to compromise. 

Your pace or mine? #Running Group etiquette re: different paces + distances #runchat #coachescorner Click To Tweet

But hey, you can start together, run the middle or parts together, and or end together. As long as you find a way to share the run and the love of running, you are winning, right?

Now, who is ready for brunch?

Want more Running Coaches Corner?

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I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday. 

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