I’ve fallen victim to those one-step-ahead runners who feel the need to demonstrate their superiority. I’ve been the pace-breaking partner who promises an eight-minute recovery pace and somehow tricks you into shaving minutes off each mile. I’ve shown up late, been ditched, chattered nonstop when peace and quiet were desired, cringed for talkative miles when all I wanted was peace and quiet, coerced a longer route into the works on a short route day, and turned long runs into single-digit endeavors.
To sum my confession up, I’ve sometimes been a horrible running buddy. And I need help. Which is where Jerry Macari, founder and coach of New York City’s RunUrban training programs, comes in. He’s here to make me—and you—into a much better runner partner.
When you schedule a workout, show up. Accountability is a virtue. So show up, no matter the weather or daily crisis. Despite life’s disasters, when you lace up your shoes, your outlook will change. “Running with a partner is what gets you out the door—you look forward to seeing them,” says Macari.
Allow for spoken—and unspoken—bonds. When your workout partner needs to talk about the misadventures of their day, listen. Colorado fitness blogger Kelly Stevenson puts it perfectly: “Know when to shut up and let them talk it out.” More often than not, partner runs become much more than just that: they become an important opportunity for conversation, venting, and pseudotherapy.
When you agree to a distance and a pace, stick to them. Spontaneity may be the spice of life, but it doesn’t make for a particularly sweet run. When you’re planning on a six-miler at 8:30 pace, run a six-miler at 8:30 pace. Not only does that ensure your own racing progress, but it also prevents those last-minute decisions that can undermine any training plan.
Be a motivator—and a fan. When that last mile repeat seems insurmountable, encourage. One of the biggest benefits of have a partner is having a motivator. “It works because, when one runner isn’t feeling so great, the other one is; when one runner is having a hard time going, the other one can keep pushing,” Macari explains.