Sometimes the best running partners have four legs. Holly Mandarich
Think back to the last time you signed up for a race. You checked the date to make sure you didn’t have any conflicts, marked your calendar, counted the number of weeks until the big day. You started thinking about what shoes you’d wear and how you’d fuel up, and maybe what music you’d be listening to as you ticked off miles. But sooner or later, the big question hits you:
How am I going to train for this?
Even when you’ve got the time, the drive, and all the right gear, it can be tough to get yourself out the door for a run several days a week—and that’s before you take into account all the other external factors, like bad weather, long days at work, and family obligations.
When you’re faced with the challenge of hitting the pavement (whether you need to cover a few miles or a few dozen miles a week), though, there’s one person you can always turn to: your running partner. Maybe it’s someone you’ve known for years or maybe it’s a new friend you made at the gym. Sometimes running partners are our spouses or dogs, but whoever you’re spending all those hours with, chances are, you owe them a pat on the back (or maybe a cold post-workout beer) for all they do.
Rain or shine
Snow? No problem! Marc Rafanell López
Lacing up your shoes and getting out the door is a no-brainer on perfectly clear, calm, sunny days. It’s another story when it’s 10 degrees outside, the trails are icy and wet, or the rain’s coming down in sheets.
On those dreary weather days, it can be tempting to pull the covers over your head or linger with your second cup of coffee. But when you’ve set a date to meet your running partner, you can’t just bail. "It looks a little chilly out" sounds like a lousy excuse, and you know they’d never do that to you.
The reality is, once you’re jogging along outside with your running partner, it’s almost never as bad as it looked from the couch. And if it is? You’ve got a pal to distract you.
Through thick and thin
A good running partner will tackle those hills with you. David Marcu
The beauty of running partners is that they’re not just there to witness your running ups and downs—they hear all about your real-life accomplishments and struggles, too.
When you’re overwhelmed by pressure at work or dealing with ongoing IT band issues, your running partner is there to commiserate. They’re also there to high-five you when you shatter your previous PR time or finally get the big promotion you’ve deserved for years.
Running can be a way to celebrate successes or escape from everyday stressors. Fortunately, whether you’re high on life or dealing with a case of the Mondays, your running partner is there every step of the way. Literally.
The perfect pace
It’s important to find a running buddy that is around your pace. Chanan Greenblatt
One of the most important qualities in any running partner is the pace—not just their pace, but the one you end up running together. Sure, it’s good for you to occasionally push yourself to keep up with a faster runner, but it’s not necessarily sustainable. And it can be frustrating to be constantly slowing yourself down to someone whose natural cadence can’t quite keep up with yours.
The perfect partner, though, has a pace that matches comfortably with yours. Sometimes that means pushing each other to keep up the momentum through this last hill set, but it can also mean jogging along together in Zone 1 or 2.
Your chatting paces are well matched, too. Your ideal running partner knows when to ask about your day and when to just let you focus on your workout.
Laughing all the way
Running partners often become lifelong friends. Brian Erickson
When you’ve spent enough hours on the trail with someone, you’re bound to have some inside jokes—from the guy you saw in the very-short split shorts last week to that time you tripped over a root and somehow managed to land on your feet, you’ve been through a lot together.
Running requires you to let your guard down. In order to get the most out of your run, you have to set aside worries about looking silly or moving too slowly. That kind of vulnerability makes for strong friendships, which is exactly why you and your running partner are likely cracking up as you make your way down the trail.
Of all the great things about your running partner, perhaps the most important is that you can be yourself around them. Whether that means leaning on them when you’re dealing with an injury, showing up to avoid letting them down (even when running is the last thing you feel like doing), or digging deep in the last few miles of your goal race because you know they believe in you, your running partner helps you be your best self.
And after all, isn’t that why you run in the first place?