I recently wrote that if you make a commitment to take a five-minute or half-mile run, it could propel you to longer distances (see the Magic of Running). I ended that piece saying the advice was the first of three steps. Well, here is step two: find a running partner.
A running partner can push your performance to a higher level, and the best part is that you won’t even realize it. I don’t know how many times at the end of a run I’d say to my buddy Ed, “I never would have run as far or as hard if I were alone.”
A running partner should be someone who shares your running goals and is in comparable condition. If you are a serious runner looking to qualify for the Olympic trials, find a partner who will push you–and you push him or her, as well. Likewise, a recreational runner should find someone who runs for exercise and to enjoyment.
I’m not saying never to run alone. Distance running, by its very nature, is a solitary sport. In fact, it is one quality of the sport that appeals to me. I do my best thinking in the solitude of sweat; it unlocks my creativity. These days I run alone more than I run with a partner, nevertheless, a running partner is a welcome addition.
Now for full disclosure. Between moving twenty-five miles from my lifetime running buddy, and age levying injury on one of us at any given time, my running partner these days is of the four-legged species. Bella, my golden retriever, is the perfect running partner for me. I usually run off-road trails for the diverse terrain and the freedom to go as long and hard as I wish, while Bella chases squirrel, rabbit and deer. She doesn’t mind hills and obstacles, never passes a creek without taking a dip, and never complains. Bella helped me train for many a marathon, but has never competed in one herself. I probably owe her a medal.
Professional dog trainer JT Clough wrote the book on running with your dog. In her book, 5K Training Guide-Running With Your Dog, JT shares advice and techniques on how to get your dog in condition safely. I also have an article with more information about running with your dog that is scheduled to appear in Just Labs Magazine this spring.
So get yourself a running partner, and the four-legged breed counts. Even if you run together once a week or once a month, you will both benefit from it.