Running has a bad rap as an individual activity. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been running for most of my life and love taking the time out of my day to head out alone, relax and collect my thoughts; but sometimes having a team or group of close training partners behind you can make a world of difference.

Last weekend I ran the Ragnar Reach the Beach Relay with a group of colleagues from the team here at Runkeeper. Twelve of us shared the 36 relay legs between New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Hampton Beach. Together, we covered over 200 miles and counted on each other every step of the way. I had not felt such a sense of camaraderie since I was part of a team and it reminded me why I fell in love with running in the first place.

Here are 20 things I learned about teamwork over 200 miles:

  1. Having someone to share your nerves with can lift a huge weight off of your shoulders.
  2. The final days or hours before a race are stressful. It’s great to have a group of people there reminding you to stay hydrated and to fuel properly!
  3. When you strategically pack and yet still inevitably forget something (in this case a head lamp ?) someone is there to help!
  4. Running is hard and we’ve all had that moment in a race or even a training run when we want to stop trying. Knowing that your team is counting you is sometimes the only boost you need.
  5. Teammates are there to remind you that between all the miles, blisters, and sore legs you can still relax and have fun! Sharing the experience with others allows you to put it into perspective and take some time to goof off and enjoy yourself!
  6. I don’t know about you but having someone meet me at the finish line with a water in hand and help me hobble off is a game changer. It’s great to have a helping hand and someone to tell you to “get up and walk” to shake out your muscles even when it’s the last thing you want to do ?
  7. For longer races, staying fueled or hydrated during an activity can be a challenge. Having teammates to remind you to stay on top of it is a huge help!
  8. Having other people to talk to and get to know is also a great way to stay interested and entertained!
  9. It’s great to know that someone is experiencing the same feelings and facing the same challenges.
  10. Teammates can challenge you to achieve more than you thought you were capable of doing.
  11. At Reach the Beach the vans were able to support their runners on most legs. It was great knowing that you could ask the van to check in on you and provide water every couple of miles. We literally counted on each other to be there to get us through to the finish.
  12. Cheering for your teammates is fun!
  13. There’s always someone there to tell you “Yes, you can!” when you feel like you can’t.
  14. Running can be hard but running together can distract you from the challenges ahead.
  15. Celebrating at the finish line is so much more fun when you can share the moment with others.
  16. Sometimes your teammates can anticipate your needs better than you can! This past weekend our van pulled over for several impromptu cheer stops at the top of large hills or when it was getting a little hot when someone was out on a long run. It was always a welcome sight to see the van waiting for you!
  17. There is no better way to bond with people than pushing your body to the limit.
  18. A few of our team members were Reach the Beach veterans while others were new to the whole experience. It was great to use each other as resources and consult team members for advice.
  19. Running is an excellent way to stay fit but it is also a great way to catch up with your friends and get to know each other better while doing something good for yourself.
  20. The best part about teammates is that you experience and share so much together. I’ve made some of my best friends through running and this experience was no exception. You learn so much about each other and create memories that will outlast any post-race pain.

Reach the Beach was certainly an extreme example of teamwork in action but the benefits can be felt in all sorts of circumstances. Finding a group to run with can be challenging or even intimidating—if you’ve never tried it start by running a short distance with a friend or creating a virtual support Network with the Running Groups feature. We promise it will be a great enhancement to your running routine!