“People, let me tell you ‘bout my best friend”
I interrupt this week’s regularly-scheduled blog to bring you something impromptu.
Every so often, I see something that inspires a post. Today, it happened twice, which led me to shelve this week’s planned entry and whip up this one.
Before I went to the gym, my friend, Heather, shared a Facebook update about her long run and tagged her training partner in the post. While I was at the gym, I saw my friend, Tom, and his training partner running the track. In both cases, they were dealing with less-than-ideal weather putting a damper on normal running plans. For many runners, bad weather on long run day makes the miles particularly challenging.
I instantly thought about how nice it was for them to have their running buddy to help them thru it. When I first began running, I always had a training partner. I teamed up with Jen for our first half marathon, then the following year, Aaron and Jason were my half marathon partners in crime. My former boyfriend, Zach, was crucial in my training for my first full marathon and, a few years later, I enjoyed helping my friend, Jill, on some of her 10k training runs.
As I continued to run and became a 100% Type A runner (aka, incredibly scheduled, anal, and particular about every run), I stopped running with other people. In fact, since I began running with Burton, I can count the number of times I’ve run with another person on one hand.
But even as I’ve gone away from running with humans, I still recognize the value in having a marathon training partner – or half marathon, 10k, 5k, whatever your distance. Especially for newer runners, here are 5 reasons why a training partner can be the best thing in the world.
In It Together
A training partner is built-in accountability, whether it’s getting up at zero-dark thirty on Saturday morning for a long run or squeezing in at least one leg day during the week.
It’s one thing to do it for yourself; it’s an entirely different feeling knowing that someone else is in it with you, often relying on you to keep them in check, too.
You smell awful. You’re missing two toenails. You have weekly bouts of hangry moments. Most people wouldn’t be very accepting.
Your training buddy understands. They don’t judge and, likely, they’re in the exact same gross, smelly boat.
As a newlywed, I’ve been particularly aware of all-things marriage advice. I remember reading one quote that basically says a strong marriage isn’t two people strong all the time; it’s one person being strong when the other is weak, and vice versa.
While a running partner isn’t quite the same as a life partner, I like how this saying applies to training. I recall plenty of runs where I was struggling or wanted to throw in the towel early. But, Jen was there to pick me up and keep me going. Conversely, there were times I remember pushing Jill to finish that last half mile or encouraging Zach up a tough hill that time he was super-dehydrated. When one partner is weak, the other can be strong and get them through.
Keep it Fresh
Anyone who has been in training, from a 5k to a marathon, knows how easy it is to fall into a training rut. You’re doing the same old workouts during the week, long run Saturday, ho hum, it’s kind of dull.
A training partner can help you see outside your little training bubble and introduce you to new things. Different interval runs, new leg exercises, even a yoga class can come thanks to an outside source, and help break up the training monotony.
They Just Get You
Training for a distance race is just as much (if not more) of a mental test than physical. And just as easily as logging all the miles can take a toll on your body, it can take a toll on your mind and attitude, too.
A training partner knows exactly what you’re going through. You’re tired and crabby? They know. You want to eat everything in sight? So do they. It’s hard to bend down? Dropping something and having to pick it up is also their biggest fear. They just get you. And you get to take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one who’s feeling all those crazy ranges of emotion.
I realized something funny while I was reading back through all this – most of these apply to Burton just as much as they would to a human. He’s always ready to hit the pavement, he’s equally as enthusiastic about food, and, he just gets me. Maybe I do have a legit training partner after all!
Do you have a running or workout buddy? Why do you continue to team up with that person? Or, if you’re more of a lone wolf like me, why do you feel it’s better to train solo? Comment below or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.