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Coach Paul Duncan: The benefits of solo training


Do you prefer training alone or with partners? Both have their pros and cons. Training with a group or a partner can be more fun. Having someone to chat with on long rides and runs, or someone to push you on those hard intervals can be a huge benefit to your training and help pass the time. But what about when no one can join you for your long ride or run? There are times during every athlete’s training when they have to go at it alone. Learn to love solo training because of these benefits.

Better chance of sticking to your training plan – When training with others, it’s almost guaranteed that you are going to sacrifice your own training to accommodate someone else’s. Most likely this means going way too hard on easy days and not hard enough on hard days. It’s very hard to stick to your specific paces, power zones, or heart rate zones when you have someone next to you speeding you up, or slowing you down. When you are on your own, chances of you sticking to your specific workout are much greater.

Logistics – Logistically, it’s just easier. You have a two hour ride on the schedule lined up on the weekend. It turns into three hours because you are waiting around for other people and trying to coordinate. Other people’s problems become your problems, their flat tires become your flat tires, their bathroom breaks, become…. well, you get my point. Training on your own will minimize lag time and you’ll get your work done, quicker, giving you time to get back to the rest of life.

Therapy – Riding or running with others generally requires having long conversations. For me, I like to disconnect with the rest of the world. Training is often my time to escape from everything else. It’s a part of the day where I don’t have to answer emails, talk on the phone, and just enjoy being with my own thoughts. Being on your own let’s think about whatever you want. It’s awesome and makes you feel free.

It makes you stronger! You start to learn a lot about your character when you are bonking four hours into a six hour ride, you still have two hours to go. You have to establish enough mental strength to get back home on your own, without your training buddy there to share his last snack cake with you. Those days where you have to suck it up and drive on by yourself will pay off on race day when it’s just you and your own thoughts to get you to the finish line.