A blog by runners. For runners.

Running with friends is good for your health, fitness

Running may seem like the ultimate individual sport. But if you have trouble staying motivated and often skip runs, or if you cut them short because you get bored, you may benefit from running with someone else.

The perks of running partners

Workout buddies can hold you accountable and help the miles fly by. Being active with a friend gives you more than just the chance to socialize on the run, though. Running buddies can also:

  • Make you faster. Studies for more than 100 years have shown that athletes perform better with a group or in front of a group. Sports psychologists say that you’re more focused and less distracted by pain when you train with others. A training buddy can push you to run your best. Just ask Olympic marathoners Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. The two pro athletes say that joining forces and training together has made them both faster.
  • Help your health. Running, in general, is good for your health, but running with others may be even better. Two recent studies looked at the health effects of social interaction. Results from one study showed that people who work out with others or visit friends were more likely to report that they were in good to excellent health. The other study found that socially isolated individuals were more likely to die at younger ages.

What to look for in a running buddy

It may be tempting to run with your spouse or best friend, but what makes these people compatible in other areas of life may not work for running. When looking for a running buddy, ask these questions:

  • When and where can you run? Make sure your schedules align and find a spot that’s convenient for both of you.
  • What’s your pace? Choose someone who runs the same average pace as you. Though, training with a buddy who is a little speedier than you may be beneficial if you want to get faster, too.
  • What are your goals? Your partner may be training for a PR marathon and you may just want to maintain your fitness. It’s important to be aware of each other’s goals from the get-go.
  • Do you want to talk? If you’re planning on putting in earbuds and zoning out on the run, but your partner wants to talk the whole time, the arrangement may not work. Make sure you’re on the same page before you commit to a buddy.

Finding your “sole” mate

These resources can help you find your ideal running match:

  • WalkJogRun. Search for running groups in your area here on WalkJogRun.
  • Running clubs. Google local running clubs or look for group runs on meetup.com.
  • Running stores. Ask a local running store if they host regular group runs or training programs for specific races.
  • Runners you see every day. She’s about your age and pace, and you see her running around your neighborhood on a regular basis. Stop staring and ask her if she’d like to run on you. The worst she can say is “no” but you’ll never know unless you ask.

Do you like running alone or with others?

Written by Jenilee Matz, MPH. Jen is writer, runner, and new(ish) mom living in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C.