The Skinny on Why You Need a Running Partner

June 12, 2018 

Photo by Arjunsyah on Unsplash

No matter how much I love to run by myself, it’s really important for me to take the time to run with other people. I’ve gone through different periods of my life where I’ve been really intentional about that and times where I look back at my training schedule and it’s filled with solo runs. I like to think we all have seasons in our lives and this is part of the natural ebb and flow of being a runner — or maybe I need to get better at making a schedule and sticking to it. 

If you have a good running partner right now, please do me a favor and give them a big hug the next time you see them. Or if you’ve been running solo for awhile and need an extra push to get yourself out there this summer — here are a few of my thoughts on why you should message an old friend or meet up with a new running partner.

Running with friends is motivating.

Not necessarily in the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed-in-the-morning kind of way, but in the meet-you-after-working-till-8 or 5-am-weekend-wake-up kind of ways. The best running friends understand that people have busy lives and we’re all fitting in our workouts around everything else we have to get done in a day.

I find having someone to meet at a specific location and time is the best motivation. I might snooze my alarm clock or change my calendar, but I’m less likely to leave my friends on the street corner at 5:30 in the morning — even though I’ve admittedly done this once or twice and still feel bad about it, sorry guys!

Your fast friends will make you faster.

That’s right, running with friends can actually improve your performance. In How Bad Do You Want It? Matt Fitzgerald explores how the Group Effect plays a role in the performance of elite endurance running. In his book he says, “When people work together, their brains release greater amounts of mood-lifting, discomfort suppressing endorphins than they do when the same task is undertaken alone.” In other words, “…endurance athletes perceive less effort and perform better when training and racing cooperatively than they do alone.” In so many ways, runners are really in it together. 

They’ll introduce you to new running routes.

Running the same loop gets repetitive, but it’s a cycle I easily falling into. Running friends introduce me to new routes and go with me on trips to explore new places. My favorite is to mix in trail running on the weekend with friends. It helps me get outside the city and practice on different terrain.

There is safety in numbers.

Instead of running at night by myself, a running partner helps me feel more comfortable about running through dark streets. For me, making plans to meet someone after work is one of the best ways to make sure I get my late workouts done.

And you might meet your next best friend.

Searching for a great running partner can feel a lot like dating — it’s a process to find someone who has similar interests, runs a similar pace and distance and can live up to the responsibility that sometimes comes with being running friends. But if you’ve had the chance to find a great running partner before, then you know that this person can also become your next best friend.

Creating a mix of solo and group runs in my schedule is how I try to find balance in my training practice. It gives me the alone time I need to zone out, listen to music and check out the beautiful scenery, while running with other people helps me push my performance and check out new places.

These articles have been some of my go-to when I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to get out and run with friends:

Better Together, Men’s Running

Why You Should Train With Runners Who Are Faster Than You: My Story

Surface Matters, Men’s Running

“Running gives freedom. When you run you can determine your own tempo. You can choose your own course and think whatever you want. Nobody tells you what to do.”

—Nina Kuscik

Austin Bay
I grew up running as a kid in Northern California in a small town near Lake Tahoe. My favorite type of running is on trail and I try to get out to the mountains as often as I can.