How to Pick the Right Running Partner | Fitbie

Running Tips for Beginners

How to Pick the Right Running Partner

The best running buddy will help you go faster, farther, and more often

The Buddy System

How to Pick the Right Running Partner  // two women running © Thinkstock

Image: Thinkstock

A decade and three children stood between 37-year-old Jennifer Lonneman and her last marathon. Training solo near her home in a Cincinnati suburb, she couldn't seem to go faster than 10 minutes per mile and wondered if a little company might help. So she started running with a small group. "Every little push, every person who was faster became the invisible rope pulling me along," says Lonneman. A year later she ran a marathon in 3:53. "My partners keep me running smart."

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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, PhD, the University of Denver's director of sports psychology.

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"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 AM run. More motivated runners prize buddies for helping them add miles and shave minutes. To maximize the advantages of this crucial alliance, keep a few principles in mind.

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