A pack of wolves is always stronger than the lone wolf. Even if you love to be alone, I highly encourage you to venture out of your comfort zone and find running buddies. Running partners can improve the overall running experience by enhancing runs socially, adding accountability, and challenging us.
I’ll be real. I come across as a social person, but I am a borderline introvert. I do not see friends on a regular basis. Side-by-side is my favorite social time.
I have made some of my deepest and lasting friendships with running buddies.
I have mentioned and will continue to be mentioning running partners in articles because it is a staple in my running. It brings me so much joy to have running mean more than the exercise, and friendship is one of the takeaways I hold most dear.
Finding a Running Buddy
Small talk with your neighbors.
It’s amazing how many potential running partners may be in your own backyard.
A local running store.
Many local running stores also have running groups.
Any other group situation you are part of: Gyms, educational or professional environments, community service activities, exercise classes, church, and the list goes on.
I’ve met running partners in the most random places. Step outside your comfort zone and chat!
At road races. You know they are all runners, so talk to people who finish around you.
One of my closest running buddies I met at a race. She had a jogger and I had a jogger. The rest is history.
Friends of friends. Grow your circles by meeting your friends’ other running buddies.
Don’t be afraid to grow the group (with others’ permission).
There are people we already know who could be a running partner too, like FAMILY! How about friends who we’ve never run with? Let’s pick up the phone and be intentional.
Many people have expressed with me a concern about being intimidated by those who run a faster pace. Put it out there. If you make it a casual invitation, there will be no hurt feelings and weirdness. Also, running a variety of paces during a given week is beneficial, so don’t assume someone who usually finishes ahead or behind you wouldn’t be a great training partner. I suggest having running partners who run both faster and slower mileage pace than you to round out your training.
If a pace is too fast for you, vocalize it.
This can be uncomfortable to do, but will help with the long term success of your time together.
Discuss days, times, and places to meet.
Clarity is key.
Don’t rush the pace because you are excited to run with a new person.
It’s not a race.
Get to know your new training partner. This is a budding friendship and should be grown.
My running partners have become my closest friends.
One-stepping your training partner will turn your run into a race, so be careful to run side-by-side and not in front of your new training buddy.
They will be afraid to run with you if they feel they aren’t fast enough to run with you side by side.
If a car is coming on the road or there is traffic coming on the trail, go single file.
Runners’ safety 101.
I recommend planning only one run at a time your first few meetings.
This allows for one or the other to back out if it doesn’t work out. There is more pressure if you decide every Monday at 5pm for eternity. Ha!
(I have not done all of the above perfectly. That is why I am posting from my experience!) We talk a lot about community at AtoZrunning. Here are a list of West Michigan Running Groups and also a podcast episode about thriving in the running community.
Live life. Run.