While running alone has its benefits – namely, the ability to set your own pace and avoid distractions or requirement to chitchat during the run, most runners find that it is more enjoyable, motivating, and rewarding to run with a partner. But how do you find a running partner who will do more than simply accompany you on your next outing? How do you find an individual or small group who will help support your running goals and act as a mutually beneficial partner? It may take a little bit of trial and error, but once you find that ideal running partner or group, you’ll be glad you took the time to vet your options. Keep the following parameters in mind when choosing your running partner, and you will be destined for a much more enjoyable and beneficial running experience:
- Search for a local running club online – you can use one of the numerous online sites to find a local running club near you. Then, investigate each club’s website or forum and read some of the member posts to get a vibe for the tone of the group. You can read the individual posts and identify if anybody matches your general running schedule or desired pace – then reach out to that individual and see if they’d like to be a running partner.
- Find a partner who likes to share – we are not talking about swapping shoes every other week, rather, partner up with an individual or small group who is open to the idea of rotating running routes among group members. Allowing you to choose the course this week, then your partner chooses the next week, and so on, provides individual accountability in choosing an appropriate run. It also creates a sense of ownership in that day’s run, and empowers each individual to make decisions. Partnering with someone who only runs where they want to and when they want to is not a recipe for a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Find a running group who shares your interests – if you are a new runner or have been out of the sport for quite some time, you may not want to join a highly competitive group or partner up with your local marathon champion. Feeling like you are always holding someone back can be frustrating, and you may find excuses to skip runs if you are self-conscious about your performance. Also, partnering with those that do not share your general interests may lead to a strained relationship and even less incentive to get out and run. Search online for running groups that share your interests and you will generally have a more pleasant time and find yourself surrounded by those who want to support your mission.
- Discuss the parameters of the run first – before you hit the road, make sure that you and your partner have a clear understanding of the pace, distance, and terrain you plan to tackle. Eliminate surprises and uncomfortable situations by putting your heads together and agreeing upon these factors early on – you’ll then have a mutual goal and a general understanding of what’s in store during the run.
Running with a partner has distinct advantages over running alone. It is much harder to stay snuggled under the covers on a cold morning when you know your running partner is already up, stretching, and hydrating, and preparing for the day’s run. There are obvious social benefits and a sense of support to group running that can help keep you on track, so make sure you find somebody who will provide mutually beneficial feedback and support during your upcoming runs.