Running is a great workout – all you need is a good pair of shoes and some stamina. Sure, we add more stuff – like iPods® and sunglasses and water bottles in a belt – but when it comes down to it, you simply put one foot in front of the other.
For the body, running strengthens the cardiovascular system, the bones and the legs. And for the mind, running delivers freedom, an escape and self-confidence. Some runners treasure their alone time, where they can be uninterrupted and think quietly.
But for others, running is difficult, and running with someone else makes it easier. They thrive on the social aspect of running, which comes in the form of a partner or a running group to keep themselves going.
Neither way is better than the other, and you should run in a way that works for you. But if you are a solo runner looking for a change, or a dash of motivation, perhaps, consider the benefits of having a running partner:
- Motivation – Even the most self-disciplined runners sometimes may need a bit of a push to hit the pavement – especially at 6 a.m. on a dark, winter morning. That’s where your running buddy is your motivation to get out of bed and lace up. You don’t want to let down your friend – and you wouldn’t want him/her to do that to you either. With a buddy, you count on each other to get through the days where you may be tempted to skip the run. And when you’re struggling through a run, a partner can help keep you going to finish. The benefits are obvious and mutual.
- Diversion – A partner provides an opportunity for conversation, which can make the miles fly by. A partner can recommend different routes as well. With a partner, you can be distracted from any aches and pains, and are less likely to be bored. You may find that you can share concerns and work through issues, and you end up forming a treasured friendship.
- Performance – Research shows that if you run with a slightly faster partner, you work harder to keep up and thereby improve your performance. And you can pace each other as necessary for easier or faster runs. We all improve with a wingman. Healthy competition can keep you from being too easy on yourself of giving up too soon in the face of a challenge.
- Knowledge – Most runners are interested in all things running-related, from races to tips on form to new gear. With a running partner, you can swap information and help each other ultimately become better runners. You can check each other’s form, review treatment for injuries and alert one another to articles, sales and upcoming events.
- Safety – For those dark morning or evening runs, it feels better to have someone alongside you rather than getting lost in your headphones where you may not be aware of a potential safety risk. This is especially helpful if you’re running in a new area or somewhere more remote. A partner can also help if you fall or are injured, heaven forbid.
To find a running partner, check web sites such as FitLink, Jogging Buddy, My Sports Partner, and more, or simply ask your family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers or members at your health club. You also can seek out a local running group, the park district or running store for connections. Running groups are a great way to start if you can’t identify a partner right away. They offer all the same benefits if you participate in their group runs.