Why do we feel and do worse when running alone?

I’ll kick this month’s recap off with a timely topic. If you’ve ever run a solo time trial, as many people are doing now, you’ve probably noticed that you can’t quite go as fast as you can in a race. I know, personally, I can’t even come close in a time trial to what I can do in a rac.e

But why is this? The stock answer is always that competition pushes us to do better and there’s obviously truth to that but what about the competition? Drafting doesn’t count for all of the difference. Motivation? Some other psychological component?

Well, this isn’t the complete answer but it does point in the direction of a potential answer. Essentially, most people feel “better” when running with others, which allows them to run harder. Feeling “better” is hard to define and it’s hard to say what we can do about this while running by ourselves. However, it’s bringing some additional level of understanding to the topic.

It’s also a good reminder right now that, especially if you usually have training partners, it’s ok to be running slower right now even while the run may feel just as hard or harder. It’s actually perfectly normal for that to happen.

In this time, probably almost all of us are experiencing some type of mental fatigue. That’s something else that can slow you down, another reason to cut yourself some slack if you’re finding your runs getting a little more challenging right now.

Want a good core routine you can do at home? Here’s one I saw and liked.

When things slowly return to normal, races will also slowly return to normal. That means don’t expect thousands of runners crowded into mega events and especially indoor race expos immediately. Hopefully, things will get back to normal without too long of a wait but here are some thoughts on what we might see until then. Personally, I like the sound of some of that.

Before closing out, a few non-virus, non-stay at home things:

How important is your warmup? Maybe less than you think (though I’ll keep doing mine for the routine and getting myself in a mentally good place if nothing else).

You’ve probably experienced less hunger after a hard workout, when one would think you might be more hungry. Why does that happen?

Because I know I needed it: Eliud Kipchoge in GQ.

Finally, back to the virus. I recently shared this link in which it was suggested you should stay 10 meters back from runners. In fairness, I’ll also share this response, which suggests less reason to be concerned.

2 Replies to “Why do we feel and do worse when running alone?”

    1. I’ll try to remember. I’m glad you liked it. It does seem like a book that you could appreciate.

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