So, you’ve just started running and it doesn’t feel as great as all those runners say it is. Or you’ve been running for years but you aren’t getting the joy out of it that you once did. In either case, you’re thinking of giving up. Not so fast! There is an easy solution: running with a friend.
Benefits Of Running With A Friend
Even if you think of running as a solo workout, there are many benefits to running with a partner that can improve your running ability and overall experience.
Even the most dedicated runner has days when she would rather stay in bed and hit the snooze button or lie on the sofa and binge-watch the latest Netflix series rather than lace-up and go run. But if your sole sister is waiting for you out in the cold you don’t really have a choice, do you? The answer is “no,” and because you are a runner you will be sure to uphold your commitment and be there as agreed.
A running partner is a cheerleader who will push you to keep pushing yourself when your motivation is dwindling. When you think you can’t make it up that hill or run another mile (but you really can) a partner will encourage you to keep going.
Having the support of someone who truly understands running is invaluable. They know what it’s like to accomplish a long run, set a new PR, or finish a marathon, and they are willing to listen to you talk about it! Non-runners may smile and nod politely, but they don’t really want to hear about every split for your last speed workout.
Those who know can cheer you on, which motivates you to keep running. Don’t forget, though, it is a two-way street – some days you’ll need the motivation and other days you’ll need to be the motivator.
You are less likely to be bored on a long run if you are with someone, and chatting is a great distraction from minor aches and pains or fatigue. Having a buddy turns your run into a social activity so the time just flies by, and after running together for a couple of hours you may have come up with a solution to any problem. Plus, over time a casual acquaintance is likely to become a good friend.
There are many safety reasons to run with a friend: you are more visible to cars, when alone you might run with headphones on and tune out potential risks, should you fall or get injured there is someone there to help, and anyone intent on doing you harm is less likely to if they have to take on two of you. For women, especially, it is always smart to run with someone even if it is during the day and in familiar territory. Also, a partner may notice if you are overexerting yourself even if you don’t, so you can slow down or stop before you harm yourself.
Are you plodding along running the same routes at the same pace in the same amount of time? Maybe it is because you think that you can’t do any better, so you don’t even try to improve. Having a running partner will change that mentality of mediocrity for many reasons:
- Being around someone who thinks you can improve will automatically raise your expectations of yourself. Then, when you find out that you can, you’ll think you can do even more and set new goals for yourself.
- Healthy competition with your friend can motivate you to run faster or longer and reach your running potential.
- You will overcome any hesitancy to try out new routes or techniques, and you can trade running tips and share news about upcoming events.
- Your running will become more consistent. When you run alone you are more prone to slacking off or skipping days, and consistency is essential to improvement.
Having a partner in running forces you out of your comfort zone which is the road to improvement. Together you’ll find that you can exceed your expectations of yourself, which motivates you to keep re-setting the bar to a higher level.
Run A Race
For a change of pace, run a race together. Training for a race is motivating and makes you feel like a true runner. For fun, get matching tee-shirts. Then after the race, be sure to celebrate together!
If there aren’t any local races that work for your schedules, or as a dry run for an actual race event, consider a virtual race. Virtual races are designed to be run whenever, wherever, and with whomever you want, and usually have a fun theme. Some organizers offer a “live” component for their virtual races courtesy of an app that allows the participants to run on a specific date and time with other registrants across the U.S. Many virtual races have a charitable component, and the organizer donates some portion of the proceeds to a designated charity. That makes the virtual race a win-win for you and the charity!
By now you should be convinced that running with a friend will jolt you out of your slump. Even after you find a sole sister (or three), keep it interesting by running alone some days, or with your dog on others. Just remember that variety is the key to getting and keeping the joy in running for life.