Running with friends can help make you faster – fact! To help you with your search for ‘running buddies’ here are some tips.
If you are new to running, your existing mates most likely prefer to head to the pub than join in with your weird new hobby. So how does a lone runner make friends who share this great passion?
From pushing the pace in harder sessions, making the miles float by on the long runs and ensuring you don’t skip the early morning start, friends are useful. One of the beauties of running is that you don’t need two teams of 11 or specialist equipment to do it.
Lace up your kicks, chuck on shorts and vest then away you go.
Yet being part of a group or having friends to run with can really help you get to the next level. What if the main benefit of altitude training or warm weather camps weren’t the physiological boosts of thin air or the sun. It could just be the benefit of being in a good training environment with a bunch of like-minded individuals.
How do you make new “running friends” though? Training partners might be a better name to use, with less on an ‘Inbetweeners’ vibe to it.
The running club
We beat this drum a lot at Fast Running, but belonging to a club in the UK and Ireland is a fantastic thing. There can be weekly coach-led sessions, organised long runs, club trips to races and sometimes even running holidays.
My own club, the North Norfolk Beach Runners, was a saving light when working in a remote Norfolk village. At the beginning of my running adventure I was introduced to faster runners, coaches and good friends.
The ever inspiring Malcolm Ball, who led the first club run I ever attended, is still going strong in his 80’s and rocking the short shorts. I love being part of the club and make it back for the Round Norfolk Relay every year that I can.
Find your local club and get out for a run this week.
Every weekend a whole bunch of running enthusiasts meet up in a park near you. Whilst someday go there solely to test out their legs and lungs, many enjoy the social aspect of parkrun too.
Turn up with a tin of home baked goodies (or some store bought cakes decanted into a tupperware box) and hang around afterwards to getting chatting with the runners and volunteers.
Maybe keep an eye on who’s around you at the finish line, so you have an idea of who would make a good training partner.
parkrun can also be good if you’re travelling around the country too. Search for one near where you are staying and not only will you have company for your Saturday morning session, but you might get wind of a group going for a long run on the Sunday too.
The world wide web can be a dangerous place for meeting strangers, but also an excellent place to make new ‘running friends’.
Obviously, the first option is Tinder or Plenty of Fish. If you can find a soul mate who’s also into running then it’s a winner surely? If they post a picture of themselves finishing a race you can even search their result to see if you could do your tempo runs together.
The online running community is probably as strong as the real world one, but in slightly different ways. I’m certain there are some avid posters in online running communities who don’t even go out running. That’s how much people want to feel like they belong.
Groups like ‘the ultra running community (URC)’ and ‘I Was, Or Am A Runner !’ on the Facebook and communities such as Runners World’s chat rooms have lots of runners who might be up for joining on a long run or based in your local area.
If there is a group specific to a race you are doing there might be a bunch of people training for exactly the same race who you can befriend. You might even be able to car share and save the planet.
Last, but by no means least, plenty of running shops realise the value of a strong community. Word of mouth is still very effective at getting people across the threshold. Some shops organise weekly runs from the store, provide coaches and a meeting point for the group.
Fitstuff, a running shop in Guildford, run every Wednesday night. There’s a mixture of sessions and the shop have even supported a local coach, Ry Webb, through his England Athletics qualifications to lead each week.
There’s even coffee shops like Mile 27 in North London. Super cool Londoners run and drink good coffee. I guess the Northern equivalent would be meeting at the pub and getting a pint afterwards. Ask yourself, what would Ron Hill do?
Not everyone wants new friends
One thing that is worth noting, not everyone wants company on their run. In the past, I’ve just started chatting to strangers running the same way, comfortable in the knowledge that they rarely run fast enough to get away or long enough to tire me out.
What I consider more these days is “do these people want to run with someone else”. This is particularly aimed at my fellow men. Not every woman wants to be hit on every time they go for a run. Some don’t go to the running club so that they can run away from their husband with a skinny armed distance runner. Just bear that in mind.