Sometimes I like to set aside time for myself to run alone. This allows me to sort out the day’s events, solve life’s problems, and relieve my stress. But for the most part, I enjoy running with a buddy. My top 3 advantages of running with a buddy are as follows:
1) The conversations make the time quickly pass by and helps me forget about the distance of my run
2) There is always safety in pairs
3) When I feel tired, my running buddy is always there to give me encouragement
I am a part of Team In Training (TNT) so I can always find a running buddy. After a few track workouts with my team, I pretty much know who has been running at my pace. So, on a group run, I would spot him/her out in the crowd and stick by him/her.
An ideal running buddy is great company, but doesn’t talk too much, is slightly faster than I am, and never tires. The slight edge in speed forces me to push a little harder.
If you don’t have anyone to run with, the best thing to do is find yourself a popular running trail. You are bound to run into another runner along the trail similar to your pace. You don’t even have to introduce yourself to that runner. What I do is secretly assign myself a running buddy by running slightly behind that person. The unknown person in the crowd becomes my pacer and my source of encouragement.
Here is my strategy for self-assigning a running buddy: If my running buddy isn’t around, I’ll start on a course solo and after a few miles, I can pick out the ones who has been running close to my pace and run by them. Another technique I use is to pick out a person in front of me and focus on that person. If I happen to catch up with him/her, then I pick out another person in front of me and try to follow him/her. It becomes a cat and mouse game, but it makes the time go by. I make it a game and try to see if I can catch up with the person in front of me and count how many people I pass by.
If you are a slower runner, you can follow the cadence or foot strike of the person in front of you without having to try to catch them. Working on a rhythm with your foot strike will help you pace yourself. There is also comfort knowing that there are other runners around you whether they or near or far. Who knows, maybe someone is using you as a secret buddy.
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” (Hellen Keller)