How to Choose The Perfect Running Buddy to Get Fitter and Stay Motivated

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Helen Foster
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I met one of my ex running buddies at the gym the other day. We ran together for a few months about 2 years ago until it all fizzled out.

She got fast. I felt unfit and eventually stopped texting to arrange things. While I was on the treadmill after we’d said ‘Hi’ I started pondering how you pick a good running buddy – other than the obvious stuff like being able to meet at the same time.

two women running together

After all, I’ve had some excellent buddies in the past (Hi Arian, Lu, Justine, Karen) what made them different from the people I couldn’t get on running with?

By Mile 3 I had come up with a good theory. It requires you knowing one thing about yourself – and three things about them.

The thing you have to know about yourself:

What motivates you/discourages you. Are you motivated by someone who is better than you – or does that make you want to cry.

I’m the latter, my most successful running buddies have been mostly about the same level of fitness than me – or at least willing to hide how good they are when we run together!

The things you have to know about them

1) How scared of them are you? My most successful running buddy ever was my friend Arian in New Zealand. Even now she encourages me from the other side of the world.

When we first started running together though I was terrified of her.

She was a very serious runner and god forbid you cancelled if you’d arranged to run with her.

I was too scared to do so, therefore never did and as such, we ran 3-5 times a week for about three years!  Get a running buddy that you’re slightly frightened of – or that’s scared of you!

2) What do they want to get out of the sessions? This is vital – if your goals for your sessions won’t match you won’t get on.

My failed running buddies wanted to train while we run – I just want someone to run with so I don’t have to go on my own for the fifth time that week.

And that normally means running at a pace where we can chat.

3) What are they doing when they aren’t with you? Sometimes this can cause problems.

If your running buddy, when they aren’t seeing you, is training for a marathon or doing hill training or sprint training but you’re plodding along happily, running buddy is probably going to get fitter than you.

Sometimes this won’t matter – maybe you’re their short relaxing run, a chance to chill out. Sometimes though you’ll suddenly realise that you’re falling behind or holding them back – and, depending on your answer to Q1 this may or may not become a problem.

So that’s my theory as to how to choose the perfect running buddy – all of the above must gel. So what do you think, have I missed anything? What do you look for in a running buddy? There’s a little speech-bubble ahead waiting for your comments.

What to Read Next

If this was helpful, you might also like a couple of our other running posts.

There’s this one on the best running tips we’ve ever heard – and there’s a lot of them trust me.

Or, if you’ve started taking running a bit more seriously and joined a club, or have a new running buddy and no idea what they are actually talking about half of the time, then have a look at this post on how to speak like a runner which explains terms like PB and negative split.

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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