How to make the most out of the Running Buddy System

Hitting the pavement solo can be great. Maybe you enjoy the quiet, or you love to listen to your favorite song on repeat without judgment. However, running alone can get boring.

And often you could find yourself wishing you could find a running partner.

Someone who can push you to your limits and beyond. Someone you can share your passion for the sport with.

You know — just someone.

Pairing with a buddy may provide you several important benefits you won’t receive when you’re flying solo.

Don’t take my word for it.

According to a two-year study by the University of Pennsylvania, exercising with a buddy boosts your chances of consistency and faster fitness gains.

In another study by Oxford University, working out within teams helps you train harder and tolerate discomfort for longer, which can spur your performance for the long haul.

I’ve already talked about how to choose a running partner in a previous post, so in today’s post, I’ll share with you three tips to help you get the most out of your running partnership.

1. Start Right

Your first running partner must have a similar level of motivation and running goals as you.

Pick wisely. Ask clear questions regarding the workouts and training schedules. Make sure you and your running partner are on the same page. Ask each other why you even running.

Is it to lose weight? To prepare for an upcoming race? Or for pure stress relief?

As a guideline, you should share similar training goals—these are what’s going to help keep you supportive, focused, and committed.

What’s more?

Pick a running buddy who is compatible with your lifestyle. For instance, if you only have time to run in the evening, choosing a running buddy who is only available in the morning will not work.

Before you commit for the long haul, make sure to do a trial run to discern whether you’ve made the right choice.

2. Get Better With the Elite

As I’ve just stated, the buddy system works the best when both runners are on a similar path.

However, if you want to get more out of the partnership, the optimal running buddy should be just slightly fitter and faster than you.

A bit of friendly competition can take you a long way. And if you’re lucky enough to find an elite runner to take you under his wing, then this is going to be the best running decision you’ve ever made.

3. Ask For Feedback (but give it with caution)

The best thing about running with a partner is the feedback you could provide each other. Verbal feedback in the form of encouragement and cheers is great, but receiving and giving physical feedback is way better.

However, there’s a big difference between a workout buddy and running coach, and it’s vital to acknowledge that unless you know what you’re talking about. After all, neither of you are certified trainers.

In general, avoid giving unsolicited advice unless your partner is asking for it. When it’s the case, give as much feedback as you can.

If your partner has improper running form, help him fix it, and develop better mechanics.  But don’t be condescending. Conversely, if you’re looking to improve your form, ask for his feedback.

And don’t be a jerk if you “win.” Winning a workout isn’t the purpose of running with a partner, so make sure you stay positive. If you had the best long run in your life, but you ditched your body two miles ago, it’s not good form to gloat.