Disclaimer: I like nearly every variation of running! Whether it’s a long quiet solo run, a big group run, or a run with a close friend, I find running to be a rewarding experience.

When is it nice to run solo? I run alone when I want time to process. I find myself mentally scanning through everything that has been going on in the past week, month, or maybe even year. I am able to celebrate success, embrace change, and analyze problems. While running along, my brain doesn’t really think linearly. It’ll bounce from “Oh no! I forgot to email that person!” to “Hmmm, I think broccoli and sweet potatoes would be good for dinner.” Taking the time to run solo is extremely rewarding, because it enables me to check in with myself. And when I finish that run, I know that it was my two legs and feet that carried me from point A to point B.

Flip side? Running with a friend can be a sweet reward! I benefit emotionally, physically, and socially from running with a friend because they can be encouraging and make me laugh! After a run with a friend, I usually finish thinking “Wow! We’re done already?!” Some of my friends push my pace – faster, which helps me work on my speed, or slower, which helps me work on maintaining a lower heart rate. Running with friends has also helped me grow my community, allowing me to connect with other runners over time.

One of my favorite runs was both solo & with a friend. I had a long run planned, but wanted to spend time with a friend, who wasn’t interested in long distance. I planned an out-and-back route, and connected with my friend at a spot in the middle. She met me at mile nine, ran seven with me, and then sent me off to run home. It was a perfectly crafted plan; knowing that my friend was waiting motivated me to get to the mid-point, and just when I hit the hardest part of the run, I found myself with a friend who was fresh and able to chat with me about everything under the stars! And for my final push home, I enjoyed the silence, felt my worked muscles, and appreciated the trail I was on.

The benefits of running are endless. We’d love to hear: what sort of running do you like to do? What’s your favorite type of run? A group brewery run, solo sunrise run, or maybe something else?

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.