Fitness and friends: discover the benefits of a running buddy

A buddy keeps you motivated and as miles fly by, worries, hopes and dreams are shared

Running buddies: ‘To be able to combine fitness and friendship is a wonderful gift. It’s the shared memories and experiences on the road that builds the bond.’

Running buddies: ‘To be able to combine fitness and friendship is a wonderful gift. It’s the shared memories and experiences on the road that builds the bond.’

 

Friendship week: From best mates to bromances, all week on irishtimes.com/life-and-style, we take a closer look at friendship.

If you are struggling to get running, maybe a running buddy is what you need. It’s easy to prioritise the most mundane of tasks ahead of running when there is no one else to answer to. When you have arranged to meet someone, you don’t make these excuses. You won’t let someone down. Instead, you treat your run like it’s a meeting and just go, saving hours, days and possibly weeks of procrastination.

Most running buddies don’t even start out as friends. They meet in work, at the school gate, at a running group or race event. They start running together for that extra bit of motivation. Over time they become so much more than a reliable runner in Lycra.

As the miles fly by, runners share stories, worries, hopes and dreams that often they may be unwilling to share with their closest friends and family.

It might be because there is no eye contact when running, so we talk more freely and openly.

What is said on the road stays on the road, and we return home lighter in our head, fresher in our body and pumped with post-run endorphins. It’s no wonder people joke about running being cheaper than therapy.

Even if you are already a very motivated or competitive runner, you can benefit from a running buddy. Running with someone who is a little bit stronger than you will push you along. You can accomplish so much more when running with others than when alone. This is why running clubs and groups are so successful.

Met as strangers

Many of the runners I coach started out as strangers in our running group and over the years they have continued to meet for runs instead of drinks and kept each other accountable, smiling and motivated.

They arrange to meet at running events and travel together to races at home and abroad. They have become friends without ever having realised that starting running was going to open up a whole new world of camaraderie and support.

To be able to combine fitness and friendship is a wonderful gift. It’s the shared memories and experiences on the road that builds the bond. Only your running buddy knows what you have sacrificed to get to that finish line.

They have been through the miles, the tears, the injuries and the bad days with you. The mutual support and encouragement keeps many of us running.

So whether you decide to meet a group, a friend or a colleague for a run, remember you will be helping them just as much as they are helping you.

It’s good to have a running buddy with similar goals. Most of the consistent runners I know have a series of running buddies for different occasions. Some days they run leisurely with a friend catching up on the news. Other days they may run with a group and push themselves to run at a pace they would not do alone.

These lucky runners who have this support network share stories of blisters, races and training plans but they share much more. They solve the world’s problems before the sun comes up, they lift each other up on the days when they are feeling down, and they create a bond that many friends will never know.

Is it time you found yourself a running buddy? Who knows what it might do for you or, better still, what you might be able to do to help someone else.

What does your running buddy mean to you?

Quotes from Mary’s running buddies:

With a running buddy I get exercise and hilarious stories that keep me entertained on the road. It’s their great encouragement and shared celebrations and achievements that keep me running. They are there to say well done and give you a kick, push or poke when you need one. Norma

My running buddy is the only reason I get up for the early morning runs. I know I wouldn’t do it without her. Trisha

Running buddies celebrate the victories (no matter how small) and console you when things don’t go to plan. They also know just when to give that vital little piece of encouragement to keep you going. Eimear

I used to have the numbers of my running buddies in my phone saved as their first name and “Running” as their surname (Louise Running). I lost my phone recently along with all my numbers. When putting their names back in the phone, I dropped the “Running” after their names as now they are true friends and not just my running buddies. Maebh

Running buddies are essential for getting you out of bed early on a Saturday and for keeping you sane. Many a fine mile has been run while venting. Corinna

My running buddies have been my therapy sessions over the past couple of months. Conor

I will never win a race but I will always come back from a run with a smile on my face. I feel very lucky that I have met a great group of running buddies who I also now consider friends with whom I have shared such good times. Fiona

A running buddy will get you to leave your bed at 6.10 in the morning because you might well roll over and hit the snooze button if you’re planning to run alone. Emma

Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with ForgetTheGym.ie. Mary trains beginners and marathoners and everyone in between to enjoy running and stay injury free. Mary is also the creator of all our Irish Times Get Running programmes.

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