I spend a lot of time running on my own. Often the times I go out don’t match up with running friends, or it may be a spur of the moment thing to go for a quick half-hour around the block after sitting at my desk all morning.
But when I do get my act together to meet up with a mate for a run, I always enjoy it and vow to run in company more often.
There are plenty of benefits to having a regular running partner - not least that, in my experience, it makes you lift your game.
One of my running mates – let’s call him Adrian, because that’s his name - has two speeds: full-on and stop. He always goes out hard, every time.
When we run together I routinely cut 10 per cent off my average time over our favourite 10km trail run, courtesy of Adrian dragging me along and cajoling me when I’m flagging.
It’s also good to have someone to have a beer with afterwards.
Then the other big benefit is accountability. If you’ve committed to going out to do some hill repeats with a friend at a given time then you’d better be there. You can make excuses to yourself but it’s much harder to stand up a mate on a running “date”.
Here are some of the other considerations when looking for a running partner:
You should choose someone who runs at the same pace as you over a given distance – or who is maybe just a touch faster, which will pull you along. Running with a partner who is substantially slower than you can be very irritating and may mean you won’t get the best out of your workouts.
Timing is everything
Some of us like to train early, punching out the kilometres before dawn, while others are just not “morning people”. Your ideal partner should share your body clock settings. If lunchtime running suits you, find someone who has the same ideas; if you’re a 5am type, likewise.
Accentuate the positive
There’s no point hooking up with someone for a regular run if they turn every session into a moan-fest. Running is hard enough without having your partner treating you like their personal therapist. You want someone beside you who is positive and encouraging about the run - and everything else.
Talk the talk
Sometimes it’s good to talk. Other times is good to cut the chat and just concentrate on form, breathing (and, maybe, not throwing up, depending how hard you’re going). Having a partner who knows the difference and who won’t be offended if you are not in the mood to chat is vital.
If you’re training for an ultra-marathon and you try hooking up with a casual fitness jogger then it’s not going to be a match made in heaven. Try to find someone with the same training goals as you, regardless of whether those goals are The North Face 100 or losing 5 kilos.
Do you have a regular running partner? Do you prefer to go solo? What do you look for in someone to run with?