When it comes to boosting motivation and running performance for the long haul, opting for a workout buddy is the way to go. Of course, running alone has its benefits, but the quickest and most fun way to improve as a runner is via running with other people, period. Peer pressure can help you become a better runner by motivating you to work out harder than usual, and go a little farther.
According to a two-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, exercisers who opted for the buddy system reported achieving higher consistency and lost more weight than those who exercised alone. Not only that, training in groups helps you tolerate more pain, a study at The Oxford University found. This can help you train harder for longer, thus leading to greater fitness gains.
Therefore, here are some practical tips to help you get the most out the buddy system training.
Runners are all around, finding them is not that hard—for instance, you could search listings at social sites, start conversations with a runner you regularly meet at the park or just ask a friend to join. However, finding someone who wants to keep the resolution for the long haul is trickier. It’s like buying a new car; you need to make sure you’re making the right pick.
Therefore, do at least a trial run before deciding for further commitment. Be direct. Ask questions about workout schedules and training goals. In other words, make sure you’ve the same vision both for the short and long term. Your training goals need to match up, if they don’t, you may need to be more flexible. This is not a call for compromise, but you can always find common ground with other runners.
Set the Right Pace
If you pick the right partner, then setting the right pace is no problem. However, if you choose to run with a group, you need to have a clear idea on how to set the pace. Usually, most groups have a leader who ensures that the pace is comfortable for everybody. However, if you do fall behind, don’t panic. If you’re really in the right group, they will ease up until you’re rubbing shoulders yet again. If not, move on and find another group.
Avoid “Friendly Competition”
A competitive spirit can take you a long way, but in excess it can cause you to lose sight of your workout program and veer off from what’s ideal for you, thus compromising performance and training enjoyment. The only person you need to compete with is yourself. Social running is about giving a helping hand to a struggling runner; it’s also about helping each other go through plateaus and reach new performance highs.
The main goal of the buddy system is to make running more enjoyable. Not the other way around. If running with other people is no fun, something needs to change. Nevertheless, practicing the above principles can guarantee success. Therefore, make sure to implement what you’ve just learned, and always remember to stay within your skill level.