Buddy up

Runners World posted an article today about group workouts (click here for full article: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–14183-1-1-2,00.html ).  I love it when i see articles about working out as a group.  Obviously, right!

Some excerpts from the article:

“Sports psychologists have known that athletes perform better in groups than alone since possibly the first study of social facilitation among cyclists was published in 1898. Simply put, this study shows athletes will exceed their expectations or personal bests when performing with a group or in front of a group, says Steve Portenga, Ph.D., the University of Denver’s director of sports psychology.

“You’re more focused, and less distracted by pain when others are watching or running with you,” says Portenga, who is also the sports psychologist for USA Track & Field. “The key is to find someone who keeps you focused on your goal.”

All runners can benefit from group training. Less experienced striders may find that the accountability a partner provides is what they need to commit to a 5 a.m. run. More motivated runners prize buddies for helping them add miles and shave minutes.”

I often have people tell me that they don’t “need” a running group.  Very true.  Not everyone “needs” a group but whether you need it or not, you can certainly benefit.  I wonder if people who run on their own, without any coaching or accountability, will go do 800m drills or tempo runs.  Hmmm, probably not.  Of course you don’t have to do any of these things to be a runner but the fun of running is the challenge!

Some of the suggestions for group running provided in the article are as follows:

Pick Wisely:  i totally agree!  you have to feel at home with your running buddy and / or group.  Star Runners isn’t for every runner out there but i sure hope those runners who have chosen us are feeling good about their choice.

Make Pace a Priority:  very important!  as the article states, it’s ok to sometimes run with someone slower or faster than you but it’s very important to run the pace you need to be running.  Again, why a group is so great because you have numerous runners to “buddy up” with.  You’ll be a happier runner if running the pace you are comfortable with versus always running someone else’s pace.

Avoid “Friendly” Competitions:  oooh, i’m big on this one!  i love running because it doesn’t have to be competitive at all.  “When you get too competitive, you lose sight of your training program and you deviate from what’s ideal for you,” says Portenga.  i wish i could “like” this!

Compartmentalize:  “The bond between running partners is unique: It lacks the shifting dynamics of a typical friendship, the baggage of family, and the professional distance of co-workers. “It’s like being in therapy,” says Lonneman. “The act of running somehow allows the words to flow easily. We share things on our runs that I might not even tell my closest girlfriend. What else are you going to talk about over 20 miles?”

Walker says that maintaining clear boundaries in her running relationships has been essential to her success as a marathon runner and triathlete. “My running partners and I have an agreement that what’s said on the trail stays on the trail,” she says.  i completely agree with this!  i have close friends that i have had forever and then i have my running buddies.  in some ways, i feel closer to my running buddies.  it’s a bond that people who don’t run or who run alone will never understand.

I, of all people, don’t “need” a running buddy to go for a run.  I’m obviously motivated and passionate about running or i wouldn’t be a personal trainer and running coach.  I do, however, lOVE to run with my running buddies, love the accountability, love the support, and love the comfort of seeing the same friends on a regular basis.  Don’t get me wrong.  I also love my solo run every now and then but i certainly wouldn’t trade one for the other.

I can’t help but wonder, all those people who don’t need a fitness buddy, are they challenging themselves?   Are they getting up and out the door for their 6 am workouts?  Are they setting and achieving new goals?  Are they starting the day with a laugh, a “good luck at your meeting today”, or a pat on the back?  I kinda doubt it 😉



1 thought on “Buddy up

  1. “You’re more focused, and less distracted by pain when others are watching or running with you,” says Portenga, who is also the sports psychologist for USA Track & Field

    this was my important takeaway from this article. I find this to be very true. When I’m alone running I find myself very self-conscious and try my best to, “look the part of a runner,” a little more–I speed up a bit, make sure my I’m not slouching, keep my head up high (ahem… suck in my gut…haha) and make a cogniscent effort to say hello to people and at least ACT like I’m not in any pain. It’s weird but being a little self-conscious about how I think I look to others when I run tends to make me work a little harder. Sounds silly, I know. Guess that, “YOU don’t look like a RUNNER,” comment from that a-hole at my first CY4miler still stings a little–but it tends to make me work harder and get better as a runner.

    btw, my RGF’s are the best running buddies on the planet! LP & KS: Ya’ll ROCK!!!
    Thanks for keeping me focused! tr

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