Friends with Benefits

RunningTogether

Mark, Karly, Liz, and I did a ladder workout on the track yesterday. I checked my car thermometer as I pulled out of the driveway at 7:30 to meet them – it read a balmy 30 degrees. I thought of the warm bed I had hauled myself out of at 6AM. Forget it. Three people expected me to show up.

A 15 minute warm up and stolen spikes later (that’s another story), we began the workout. As usual, we started the first 800 too fast. But gosh darn it, I wasn’t going to slow down not with three other people there who were clearly not slowing down.

I’ve trained by myself for most of my running. Finding running buddies got especially harder after I started marathon training – surprisingly, most people don’t want to spend their Saturday morning running 20 miles. But since I’ve started training with Runners Retreat Elite and occasionally joining Run Group, I’ve been learning just how much running buddies can help me run better and faster.

In San Francisco, a group of women meet regularly to run together. These women frequently win races and set PRs. The trick? “The magic of the group is that each time one person takes a step up, everyone else follows suit,” Impalas head coach Tony Coffey told Runner’s World.

I don’t know if it’s mutual determination, competitiveness, or pride. But a good running buddy, or group of buddies, has a way of pushing even elite runners toward better runs.

Lauren Fleshman posts videos and pictures on Instagram of her “Little Wing” – a group of women training together. In August, Fleshman wrote in Runner’s World about a track workout with Mel. When aspiring pro-runner Mel joined Fleshman to train, she had a history of disappointments and injuries behind her.

“What a gift to run behind this woman. To watch her in the midst of an incredible breakthrough workout, not from the sidelines, but from right behind her swishing ponytail. For 20 hard laps I could have reached out at any moment to touch her. And as we make the final turn with 100 yards to go, I nearly do. Instead I dig deep to pull up alongside her to finish together what I couldn’t possibly have done alone.” (emphasis added)

I like running solo as much as anyone. I do some of my best thinking and problem solving while I’m out on a run (I chalk it up to fresh air, no distractions, and endorphins). But runners need each other.

Running with a buddy is fun. And guess what? I’m also getting faster.

-Courtney


For tips on choosing a running buddy, click here.

To read the rest of Lauren Fleshman’s column, click here.

To learn more about the benefits of running with friends, click here.