Over the years, I’ve done all kinds of training programs — from the ones you find in magazines to online to a personalized 18-month (yes 18 MONTHS!) marathon program. I’ve done 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon programs. I have run at 2:30 a.m. (okay, THAT was a crazy 15 miles!) and at 10 p.m. (and it was still 85 degrees!). I’ve run alone. I’ve run in groups. I’ve run on tracks. I’ve run on roads. I’ve run on trails. I’ve raced the mile and the marathon. I’ve run for causes and for no reason at all – except to run . . . and I could go on, bla, bla-bla, bla, bla. : )
But after 25 years of running (give or take a few years), you might think I would know the “magic” formula to running. Well, honestly, what I’ve found is that it often varies by personality type, but few things — if any — beat this one magic secret to consistent and fun running . . . a running partner.
A good running partner is rare and valuable and should NEVER be taken for granted. He or she is what gets your behind out of bed on those stinkin’ cold mornings when you would rather “put off your run until later” (aka you’re not going to run that day), pushes you to go a little faster or farther, helps you finish when you might otherwise be walking, challenges you to sign up for that “impossible” race and also enables you to just de-stress through conversation. A good running partner is what I see as key to not only running better, but running for the “long run.” Meaning, a good running partner keeps running from becoming monotonous and can make even those nasty runs something to be at least okay with…and can keep you running for years longer . . . over time, when you have a great running partner, running is less about racing and more about relationship (though it can easily be both as well).
Now, some people think a running partner is another individual. Could be. But a running partner could also be a running group you meet up with, a trainer who monitors your workout or for some, their dog could be their running partner. Personally, a PERSON is much more motivational as you know they’re sacrificing just as much as you and they’re waiting on you, while a dog…well, a dog forgives and forgets, so it’s easy to “quit” on your dog… (though, I guess you COULD train him/her to pee on the corner of your bed if you don’t get up…: ), however, you can only stand-up your running partner (person) a few times before you no longer have that running partner.
I realize some people may disagree with this, saying they use running as “alone” time. That’s cool. But I would also tend to believe that a lot (not all) of those people also run with iPods or some other form of “distraction.” Why? To keep their minds engaged. Can’t and won’t recommend that here. MANY runners do listen to music as they run, but it doesn’t make it safe (especially for women). Some claim they can hear traffic over their music . . . uhhh, I can BARELY hear the electric/hybrid cars when I’m standing next to them. Some claim they can hear others approaching from behind them over their music . . . well, I’ve startled more than one woman listening to her music when I’ve come up from behind and passed her (and please don’t ask me why in the world a woman would choose to run a trail or some other secluded run by herself – though, perhaps because I have daughters, I’m over protective here…still…). I am not saying music doesn’t help (as a good beat does seem to help with pace), but especially when you’re running alone, it’s not really a safe idea.
AND even though I went down a side path there for a bit (Squirrel! : ), it is just another reason why a running partner (person) is so valuable. An extra set of eyes, far less likely to be subject of an assault, traffic can see you more easily, conversation, encouragement and the motivation to get up and not quit when it gets tough…not to mention the benefits of building a relationship/friendship that isn’t limited to just when you have your running shoes on.
So, the best running advice ever, to me, is doing what you can to find a good running partner – it helps immensely. However, having said that, when choosing a running partner, as the old Indiana Jones movie says, “choose wisely” as both personality and pace (speed at which they train) play a big part in finding the “right” person. : )
Have an awesome run today!
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