I've been running consistently for years now - over 4 - and I've never really run with anyone (not counting races) until recently. I was so thankful during half marathon training this year (Pittsburgh) to be running "virtually" with my good friend Kandi, but it's not quite the same. It was great to have someone to whom I felt accountable but that still left me without someone for conversation on the road.
I am a faithful follower of the Another Mother Runner tribe and they talk a lot about having a BRF (best running friend). I never really got it - until now. I'll admit, I was nervous about taking this step in my running career so I thought maybe others might have some apprehensions, too. Here's my top ten list for finding and running with a friend:
1. If someone asks, GO! You might not know the person well but that doesn't mean you can't get to know them. You might think you're only a solo runner, but if you've NEVER run with a buddy you can't really say that for certain. Even if you're not a typically social person, it might just be good to have someone push you a bit.
2. Don't let speed influence your decision - but be honest. If your potential running partner runs a sub-7:00 mile and you're closer to 14:00, it might not be the best match. But if they only run that 7 min mile during speed work and they run a lot slower for long runs, give it a go! Just make sure they know it. And don't convince yourself that the other person is WAY faster unless you ask.
3. Don't let age be a determining factor. I'm no spring chicken (43 used to seem O-L-D) but my new running friend is.. She's younger but she doesn't seem to mind that I'm not as hip and cool as I used to be (Oh, who am I kidding...I was NEVER hip or cool. But I was young once!).
4. Don't let size matter. I know, it's hard to look at someone who is much smaller and think you can't keep up but I have NEVER been in a race and NOT been passed by someone who is much heavier. I've also passed plenty of folks who are much leaner. Runners come in ALL shapes and sizes - Runner's World had a great article about it! (I can't find the link - I think it was the July issue)
And now on to the logistics:
5. If you sign up, show up. Obviously, circumstances change (and my new running partner and I have both had to bail at the last minute - that's life with kids...and husbands) but our running situation is not just about us - we run while our kids run with their XC team (that's cross country). But if it was just the two of us, I would make much more of an effort to not let her down.
6. Leave the tunes at home. Now, this one should be obvious but some people are addicted to running with music (*raises hand*). However, conversation is a lot easier if you don't have your ear buds in.
7. Bring the tissues. This is a reminder specific to me - I swear, my nose runs faster than I do! Apparently, it's a common issue. And I forgot my Kleenex the first couple of times. Thank goodness it was so humid!
8. Don't be afraid to spit. Runners do it, so there's a good chance your new buddy won't even notice (true story: happened to us last night)(there were A LOT of bugs).
9. Allow yourself to be pushed out of your comfort zone. I'll admit, I'm mostly a comfortable runner - there are days when I hit it hard, especially if I'm training for something specific, but for an evening run (especially after a long day), I'm not as likely to push. But I'm a bit competitive and I also can't say no, so if she asks if I wanna? I go! And I love every minute of it. I really enjoy a good hill (when I'm done), so if time permits, we kill the hill. But if I was alone? Naaaaah.
10. Discuss your limitations before you go. I have never run on a trail (like, ever) (I know, right?) so I made sure to mention that before our first outing. I was really worried we would end up running through the woods being chased by a bear (or a rabid groundhog)(whatever).
So there you have it - my top ten tips for running with a friend. I am very lucky that my first time trying turned out so well, but if it doesn't for you, don't give up! There are A LOT of runners out there, whole entire running groups even! Find one!
*waves enthusiastically* Hi, Beth! Hope you made it to the end! Thanks for being the guinea pig on my running with a friend excursions!
Do you run with a friend? A group?
What are some tips you have?