Having a running partner is a lot like a life partner. If you have ever trained with someone for long distances over an extended period of time, they likely know a lot about you. There is something very intimate about a running partner. You spend many hours chatting about every topic under the sun. Usually you don’t have to look each other in the eye, so it becomes very easy to share life’s finest details.
But just like a life partner, there are things that are bound to bug the heck out of you with one another. Plus running brings out some rather telling moments. Sometimes gas just passes, other times nature just calls, and forget about the snot that runs like a waterfall in the winter.
If you have ever flipped through a running magazine or scanned online running sites, you will notice a common trend with advice columns often filled with questions about running partner etiquette. These are serious issues!
As a girl who runs with various groups I get a lot of questions about this and a lot of concerns about running partners as well as group running. Maintaining a balance isn’t always easy. In fact, Rock is my best friend and we rarely argue. But the few times we ever have were usually during a run we were on together. Below are the biggest questions I hear or issues that I notice.
Pacing: Whether it be with a group or a running partner the biggest concern is always regarding pacing. So many people avoid joining a running group in the first place because they fear they will be the slowest and hold up the group. Funny thing is, everyone is worried about this and usually they are all just about the same pace. More often than not, the person worried about slowing down the group is actually faster than the rest.
I have two acquaintances who love getting together for runs before work or on the weekend. They are great friends, but they are very different runners. One runs at a moderate pace and can handle longish runs while the other is a Boston qualifier and runs marathons just about every other month. But if you read their Facebook statuses they always have a blast during these moments and genuinely look forward to their time together.
So how do they make it work? Like any good running partner it is important to recognize each other’s pacing. Obviously one knows that the other is faster. But when they run together they choose a pace that is enjoyable to go together and chat. Sometimes running with a partner is less about getting a hard workout or a speed in, and instead is about just getting a sweat in together.
What do you do if you want to run faster? Fair enough. Sometimes you want to go for a faster run. Not every run needs to be done with your running partner, and sometimes you need to leave this partner in the dust to run with a faster friend. But feelings are feelings and we need to remember that we are all adults here. Explain to your pal that you enjoy running with them yet sometimes you need to go at your own pace or need to join your faster pals to get your lungs burning. A good friend will usually understand and appreciate that you value your time together as well.
Races: Sometimes you and a running partner opt to sign up for the same race. It is fun to meet up for training sessions and look forward to the big day. Races are a huge motivation to get those training sessions in. But you need to lay out a game plan before the race. You need to be honest with each other and determine if you really truly want to run together the entire time. This can be really tricky, regardless of whether you are a competitive person or not. Races bring out the beast in all of us.
Generally speaking I think the best way to approach most races is to agree that it would be fun to run together but you both need to understand that it is okay if the other person feels like they want to pull ahead and go for it. This almost never has anything to do with your pal but instead everything to do with seeing what you can do or enjoying the race on your own terms.
Rock and I have somewhat similar paces but we have always agreed that if a race is feeling good, it is okay to pull ahead as long as we tell each other. I will take this moment to apologize to him for the 5k we did and promised we were just going to jog and enjoy with each other. A half mile in I got caught up in everyone passing me and took off. I could practically feel him mouthing, “What the hell?!” When he saw me nearly puking at the finish I think it made him feel better about my rash decision.
Gross Habits: Oh boy this is a tough one. It is hard enough to live and deal with our life partner’s habits. You know, those little things that over time start to drive you crazy? Maybe at first you thought it was funny that your running buddy blows snot rockets. But then it gets a little irritating when they start flying back your way in the wind.
Sadly, I am no Emily Post. Tact isn’t exactly my strongest attribute and Rock will tell you that I am the first to give someone a stink eye when they bug me. So you are on your own with this one. All I can recommend is that you sit back and contemplate the enormity of your buddy’s annoying habit. Is it truly grating enough that you might strangle them if you have to do one more run with their irritating habit? Just make sure you let them know how much you value their relationship and time on the road. Then go ahead and let them know you might stuff them in the next port-a-potty if they snot rocket you one more time.
Do you have a running partner? What is your best advice?