Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Importance of a Running Buddy

Like I mentioned in my introduction post, I'm not a natural runner by any means. When I first began running, a friend of mine from my grad school cohort agreed to try it with me. But, seeing as neither of us had any running experience, she bowed out after a couple runs. I soon learned that if I were to find a running buddy, it had to be someone with more experience, drive, and determination than I had.

When I first began running and M set me up with my iPod and shoes, he ran with me a few times, but there was some difficulty there. For one thing, his legs are at least six inches longer than mine, and our strides don't match up. For another, he was living in a different state.

So in 2009, when I met K, I was relieved to find that not only did she like to run, but she had experience! K had been a cross country runner in high school. She knew all kinds of jargon, like fartlek and intervals. And because we worked together, we could easily go on our runs right at the end of the day. Perfect.

Although K had her first baby that year, which interrupted our running a bit, it also served as a motivator for her the next summer when she wanted to lose her post-pregnancy weight. Her motivation fed into mine, and we decided (crazily) to train for a half.

But that's a story for another day. The point of this post is the power of a running buddy. K holds me accountable without really having to do much. A simple text ("want to run tonight?") is enough to get my off the couch.

The importance of having a running buddy goes beyond that, though. Let's be honest here. Running is work. Some days, it's the last thing you want to do. You've been at work all day. In my case, that means 8 hours of standing, talking, answering repetitive questions, sometimes shouting, sometimes pulling teeth to get work out of these kids. At the end of the day, wine and TV is like...a dream come true. So why run? Why create another obligation to fulfill?

Well, for one thing, the girl time! The thing I miss most from college is sitting in the sorority house talking about completely inappropriate things, or political things, or literature-related things. During a run, our conversation provides a distraction. After the run, while we stretch, it provides a solid time to catch up and be adults. Honestly, that in itself is priceless. More than anything else - the motivation, the knowledge and advice - the time to just talk and feel like a real person with thoughts, opinions, and feelings is the best part of having a running buddy.

There is something about bonding over achieving a goal that deepens a friendship, and maybe that's what finding a partner to run with is really all about. One thing I know for sure - running would be a lot less enjoyable if I had no choice but to do it by myself.


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