So, you’re a runner on the prowl for the perfect training partner? Seems pretty simple, right? While there are plenty of fish in the sea (or runners on the streets), there are several pitfalls you should avoid before delving into a full-blown running partnership. Chances are, these tips will save you a world of frustration, injury, or burnout.
The Flake: Have you ever come across those people who say “I want to start running” or “ I want to get into better shape”, but never seem to stay committed? When selecting a training partner, you want to nix those who are less motivated and committed than you. Reversely, don’t ask an Olympic bound runner to be your training partner if your goal is to simply complete a 5k. In a training partner, seek those with a similar commitment and ambition for running.
The turtle or the hare: While it’s sometimes beneficial to train with people on a vastly different level than you, it’s beneficial to find someone with roughly equal capabilities. However, based on your running personality, you can really benefit from training with someone slightly faster or slightly slower than you. If you’re the type to grind, grind, grind all the time, seek out someone slightly slower than you to keep your efforts in check. If you struggle to push yourself, train with someone slightly faster than you to keep you motivated to improve.
Negative Nancy: Negativity is really toxic. Running, in and of itself, is a mentally and physically taxing sport. If you have a negative Nancy adding to the stress, it’s a sure recipe for lame running experience. Conversely, if you train with someone who is positive and uplifting, it can exponentially amplify your running experience.
The Sprinter (Unless you’re a sprinter too): Choose someone who has similar goals and/or is training for a similar race. For example, if you’re training for a marathon, don’t try to train day-in and day-out with a sprinter, or someone with vastly different goals. Your paces, mileage, and mindset will be a lot different. While the occasional speed workout or long run with people of different events is okay, steer clear of a long term partnership.
The Competition Junkie: Competition is a healthy, fun way to grow as a runner, but if your training partner is constantly pushing the pace and/or racing you, it might be time to reconsider the partnership. Save the racing for races. If you and your running partner consistently run with your egos rather than your brains, your risk for burnout, injury, or chronic frustration dramatically increases.
Finding a quality training partner can be a tedious search. Remember to stay open-minded and to have a balanced approach to running. As I’ve mentioned throughout the post, it’s okay and probably beneficial for you to train with different types of runners, but when it comes to the long term, you have to do what’s best for your mind, body, and spirit! Over time, It is likely that partnership that is best for you will naturally emerge.
What experiences have you had with training partners?