It’s easy to get lost in the specifics of what a workout is like when you’re running intervals, hills, repeats, you name it. But this month, I just want to focus on a component of what makes workouts more fun, and that is running with someone.
Just the other day, a couple of my athletes mentioned that they wanted to run together on Monday. I had already written their programs but decided to change their workouts because the value in having a partner on the trail was worth the little extra time it cost me. I know that they will both benefit from having each other to push just a bit harder. Don’t get me wrong, this has backfired in the past and the workout has become a social jog, but it can work if the runners are on the same page.
Having a running partner when doing structured workouts often provides that extra level of motivation to push harder. It’s easy to relax on the final push when alone, but if your friend is just in front of you or just behind, it makes all the difference when it comes to digging deep. I believe that from every workout that is done with a group or with another runner, I gain an extra level of training that I wouldn’t otherwise.
Pace, for one, is better managed when there are two people. One will always notice if the other is speeding up or slowing down. I used this strategy myself because I like to run fast all the time, but for my upcoming race I need to slow down. When I run alone, I don’t slow down, but with the help of my friends I was able to work on pace.
When friends agree hit the trail at 6:30am and others have said yes, they are committed to be there. There is no backing out. Others are showing up because they also committed. If you’re running alone, it is easy to wait another hour before heading out, wait for it to be warmer, have more coffee, whatever. Now, you can’t. You’ll be there. For me, even the days that I struggle to get there, I’m always happy I got there once the workout is done.
We all participate in a solitary sport, but when you can enjoy the time on the dirt with a friend, take the opportunity and give each other that extra push.
Peter Fain coaches trail and ultra runners out of Truckee, California. Learn more about his coaching services at www.runondirtcoaching.com.