The benefits of running with friends

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Today was the first week of my marathon training for the up and coming Gold Coast Marathon in July. This also, however happens to be two weeks out from my 4th half marathon in Canberra. This meant that today was my 18km run.

Most weeks I go out and do my long runs on my own, give or take a few times when I feel like a run with a friend, but the thought of getting out there today was just looming over me. I have run thousands of kilometres on my own in the past few years, and did it pretty much all on my own during my marathon training, and it can get pretty lonely. Sometimes having someone else there by your side is just the thing you need to keep you from stopping and giving up.

Yesterday my lovely friend came to the rescue organising to meet 6k into todays run to run the middle 6-8km with me. Today I KNOW it meant the difference between me giving up or keeping keeping on. It was dark, my calf was hurting and when I reached her house I felt like I had already run the 18km on my own even though I was at 6 only! (ok, so maybe my pace was a little quick).

So, we took off and the kilometres just seemed to fly by. We were chatting like a bunch of school girls and still keeping a pretty decent pace. I actually said to her, “you don’t know how good it feels to have you right next to me right now”. Because it did. It was easier and before we knew it we were parting ways and I was on my own again for the last part of my run. This time however she had given me the encouragement I needed to smash that last part out, not just dawdle on back home. I was ‘accountable’ if you will, and I ran a good run.

This doesn’t mean that I will be running all my runs with someone. This time around I have set myself a pretty firm goal time wise that requires me to run at ‘pace’ often, so that means that I am stuck on my own for those longer runs or with someone that can keep that pace. Luckily my friend can! Sometimes I will mix it up and do part of the run with someone, or a shorter run with someone which I actually do on a regular basis to keep it interesting.

There are definite benefits running with another person. Here are some of my thoughts:

Running with someone:

* It is motivating. You can chat about everything and anything and the time just passes by without you noticing! You learn to listen to someone else and share advice about running or anything really!

* Is safe. Especially if you are going at the crack of dawn like me when it is pitch black out. It is probably a good idea to have someone with you! When I left this morning I had my head torch on my head because it was so early. I had to pass a man walking the other way and my heart was pounding out of my chest! If I had someone next to me, I wouldn’t feel so scared.

* Builds confidence. You push each other. You can spur each other on for a sprint or a change in pace. If the other person isn’t going to give up, chances are you aren’t going to either. You might try a different route, a different pace, hills you have never run before, all because your friend took you there.

* Builds community. Like-minded people always gravitate together, running with friends builds that network and love of running.You could form a little running group that can work on some challenging runs together, or have a goal to run a particular event together. It’s always more fun when you are part of a team.

* Keeps you accountable. It get’s you out the door. You have a much better chance of not hitting the snooze button when you know that your friend is waiting for you out the front door! Get up, put your clothes on and meet them out the front. They are ready and waiting for you!

* Learning new routes or techniques. Today was awesome as I ran a different route that I had never run. I left it up to my friend to just tell me where to go and it was like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes running in a different environment is all you need to keep you from getting into that ‘runners slump’.

* Meeting new people. Recently I joined the park run community and run that with my friend Luisa. From that I have met a few other people and I am sure that I will meet more people, some who are members of our lovely community here. It was a fun environment simulating a race, something I wouldn’t do by myself at home!

Do you like running by yourself? or are you a person who prefers to run with a friend? Are you a group runner? That is a whole different story and one that I don’t feel that I am cut out for. Group running is not for me, but partner running just may be something that I am beginning to enjoy.

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