I tend to train alone, whether it is lifting, running, biking or swimming. The rational is that: a) All of this exercise takes a lot of time and I want to minimize that time by eliminating minutes and hours spent waiting/meeting people before a workout; b) I know my pace and I don't want to push myself too hard by trying to keep up with a speedster or reduce the benefit of a workout performed below my ability by holding back; c) Training alone toughens me up mentally and if there is one place where I need the most help it's in my ability to endure and push through pain and boredom and d) Given that I travel every other week to be with Ben and Sam, I am a flaky training partner who is not reliable on a week-to-week basis.
I am now questioning this Greta Garbo philosophy based on recent events.
First, training and racing for Wildflower 2006 was a great experience, and not just because I nailed that son of a bitch, hard deck or no hard deck. Biweekly rides with Will made it a much more enjoyable experience and hanging out with the San Francisco Triathlon Club at the race made it a communal experience. I even ended up joining the Club, although I have yet to go to a workout. Baby steps, my man.
Second, committing to and training for a race with other people deepens your own personal motivation and commitment. For example, this morning the plan was to run 10 miles as my first long run in preparation for the California International Marathon. I felt tired the first three-to-four miles and contemplated just doing eight to save my legs. However, knowing that Gina, a friend who is also doing the marathon, had done 10 miles the day before, motivated me to do the entire 10.
Third, there is a community of strangers out there doing the same thing as me and there is a conversation waiting to happen on every run. On the aforementioned 10 mile run, I was passing a runner after 5 miles. Once I got abreast of him, he sped up slightly to keep up. Rather than ignore him, as I would usually do, I started up a conversation, and we ran the last 5 miles together. I didn't even mind that we went slightly faster than I normally would go, the perils of running with a 17-year high school runner with a 3 mile best of 16 minutes.
I'll still probably do the majority of my workouts alone, but more out of necessity and convenience, than desire.