Is a Running Buddy Right For You?

Since I started running consistently in 2006, I’ve run on my own, with a team, and with friends.  I find that certain goals, moods, and types of runs lend themselves better to running with a friend, while others are better suited to solo runs.

When to Run With a Buddy

  • For long runs.  Running with a friend can make the miles tick by more quickly.  It also helps you keep long run pace, which experts say should be “conversational.”  Conversational pace means just what it sounds like — you should be able to have a conversation while you run.  In other words, no huffing and puffing and going all out.  When you’re chatting with a buddy, you automatically revert to conversational pace so you can chat!
  • When you and your buddy have a shared goal.  Maybe you and a friend have the same goal race, or you both are working towards a 5k PR.  If you run at similar paces, why not meet for a workout once in a while?  Meeting someone else will hold you accountable as you work toward the goal together.  (If you’re not at a similar pace, there’s no reason you can’t meet up and do your own thing when you arrive at your workout location!  You can chat over water and healthy snacks afterwards, and they still provide extra incentive for you to get there.)
  • Easy run days provide a great opportunity to run with a friend who is a little slower than you, while hard workouts might be a chance to run with a speedy friend.
  • Run with a buddy when you’re afraid you’ll skip your workout.  When you plan to meet a friend for a run, it’s a lot harder to find excuses not to do it.  Like I’ve said before, a little bit of guilt can always get you going!
When to Run Alone
  • You have a lot on your mind.  Running can be a chance to clear your mind and sort out things that have been bothering you.  Everything becomes a lot clearer after a good run.
  • When you want to see what you’re made of.  If the point of your workout is to push past your own limits and see what you can accomplish, run alone.  A buddy could hold you back or make it easy to go too hard, too soon.
  • If you’re training for a race that you’ll run alone, make sure at least some of your long runs are solo.  It can be a big adjustment to run alone when you’re used to having someone there to talk sense into you and encourage you when it gets tough.
Do you run with a buddy or do you prefer to run alone?  
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