Don’t try this alone
You look at your watch — only 30 seconds of rest left. You’re still breathing hard and your legs are tired. Doubt starts to creep in whether you can actually hit your pace on this one. You’ve been fighting through all workout long, and you’ve managed to hit your times. But you’re not sure about these last few reps. 10 seconds left now.
Then you hear a voice say, “I’ll lead this one.”
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know the feeling of relief that comes with hearing those words from a training partner. It’s not just the energy difference between leading and following. It’s the psychological benefit of not having to push yourself alone, feel the pressure of leading, and worry if you’re on pace. When it comes to distance running, misery really does love company.
Having a running group or running partners to train with can help improve your running in several different ways:
- Different strengths, different weaknesses
Runners come in all shapes and sizes — and physiological profiles. Two people who run the exact same time may actually be very different types of runners. One may love tempo runs, and one may find them mind-numbing. A set of fast 400’s might be the idea of a party to one, and puke-inducing to the other. When you find training partners that have different likes and dislikes from you, you make sure that you focus on your strengths AND your weaknesses. Your training partner can help push you on mile repeats and you can pull them along when you’re doing hill repeats. To be a good distance runner you need to do a variety of workouts and finding training partners who can help you in the workouts you dislike can be a big plus.
- Reach to be better
One of the best ways to improve as a runner is to train with people who are faster than you. Of course you don’t want to try to keep up with an Olympian every day, but running a couple times a week and doing workouts with someone who is slightly faster than you is a great way to get better. By working with someone who is faster than you, you can hit times in a workout that you would never be able to hit if you were running alone. And training with someone who is running the race times you want to run is a great way to gauge how close you are to being able to hit your goals.
When life happens, it’s easy to say “I’ll just skip today’s workout.” But when you’re meeting up with other runners, you may find that the excuses that sound good in your head are pretty lame when you say them out loud. And most runners know that you rarely regret getting out and going for a run once you’re out there. Making plans and having a set time to work out with other runners is a great way to make sure that you actually get your training in.
If you’re looking for workout partners to help push you, make sure to check out my group speed workouts — every Tuesday night at 6:30pm at the Emory University track. Get all the details here!