, , , , ,

Some days my superhero powers come to life as I jolt awake from a deep slumber; then there are days I have to drag myself out from under the warm comfy duvet.  On the superhero days (which happen more often than not) I could possibly workout the entire day and continue on without too much external motivation.  These are the days I obviously love!  On the other hand, I have days it’s hard to get inspiration to lift my fingers to type on the computer for work let alone run down the road in a neon pair of shorts and shirt.  It’s on these days I appreciate my running partner.

A few years back when I began to run, I was embarrassed to be seen running outside by strangers let alone by people I actually know on a daily basis.  As I grew into my running shoes, I began to feel more comfortable with my body and what it looked like during the process of getting my booty down the road.  Negative thoughts of my booty shaking, extra weight bobbing and don’t even get me started with the thought of people seeing me sweat!  It was a mental and physical fight each and every run, something I managed with a running partner and some alone.  I’ve had the best of both worlds and let me tell you, it’s easier with the assistance of a running partner.  In my case I was fortunate to have a loving husband that was able to help me train my body into what it is today.  He was the first to push me towards working harder and longer on my workouts instead of worrying what others perceive of me running.  The other part was driven by my inability to accept failure.  Competition drives me.  The mental part was accomplished 90% alone as it has to come from within, not from others. The other 10% mental assistance came from others through online chat forums, weight loss sites, and a very small amount of compliments from others seeing the transformation come to life.

What’s up with the necessity for a running partner?  It’s quite simple; a running partner is there for you when you are down.  No, I am not referring to a person that needs to push out compliments every day so I can feel good about myself.  Rather, this person is there to tell you how you really look running down the road and that your insecurities really did not matter to the car driving past just around that last corner.  He/she helps get you off the couch and out the door of cold, dreary days when neither of you want to be out there but rather be inside drinking hot cocoa next to the fireplace.  This type of assistance is always a great support during the first few weeks, months or for some of you years when beginning a new workout.  (Not just running)

Can anyone be a running partner?  Sure anyone can be a running partner but it is essential to find a person whom will push and keep you accountable.  A best friend for some people might be the perfect running partner but not if that person will not push you beyond your boundaries and out of your comfort zone.  A compliment is nice and all but it’s not going to get you out the door on those days you would rather be running to the doughnut shop instead of running around the block.  This special someone needs to give you the truth and not sugarcoat the objectives in your life holding you back.  Think drill sergeant turned friend.

Not a person in your life like this?  No worries though, there are tons of places a person can find an efficient running partner.  In my case I leaned on Genki Husband for support in person while also working on a few different weight loss and running websites that contained likeminded forums.  Since I am socially shy, I did tend to find my inspiration online to drive me towards my goals.  I’d rather give up coffee for a week than hire someone to assist me in my path. But that’s just me, I’m weird, I never stray against this fact.  If you are financially setup for this type of assistance and find motivation from someone yelling at you (I’d probably cry in a paid boot camp environment LOL) then that is the method you should make arrangements for starting today.  It all depends on how your mind works and what you can handle – running is supposed to be fun and not a chore.  So, find someone in your life or find someone outside your social circle to help out in your new lifestyle.

Think there is no one in your life right now that could handle the pressure of being a good running partner?  Well you are in luck since there are a lot of people out there looking for a partner too.  In my case, I did not have a specific person online that assistance in my learning to run but rather an entire network.  My favorite site was Sparkpeople for learning how nourish my body as a running, reading inspiration journal entries by others, writing down my personal journals and by actively being a member of a few running forums.  Note the mention of being ‘active’!  Additionally I appreciated reading articles from Runners World America and joining in on the conversations on the main website- the more you read of running the more you will be encouraged.  My favorite local running store has also mentioned a few times of the local running groups that meet every Saturday in our city.  Unfortunately we live about 30-40 minutes from the city so we haven’t been able to attend but I have heard a lot of people love being a member of a running club.  Ask around your local area such as running stores, fitness shops or even do an online search to find something in your area.  If there isn’t one maybe start one up and encourage others at the same time.  Again, the more you invest of your time into running, the more you will get out of it.

Now that you have found a person that can be a running partner, what should you expect?  This really does depend on what your personal goals are for a running partner.  In my personal case, I wanted someone that would encourage me to get out the door on those days I held less than superhero powers.  Additionally, I wanted someone to teach me how to run properly so I would not hurt myself.  (LOL…with strict rules not to do this in public – enter shy complexity again.)  As you can imagine, Genki Husband was not always sure how to be motivating as he was not trained to deal with a grouchy, huffing and puffing wife that glowered at him when he would give suggestions or dare to give a compliment on those hard days. Those first few weeks were extremely hard for him as to which I still apologize to this day.  Your new running partner may have the position down pat but just give a list of suggestions and it will save a lot of apologies for years to come.  Thankfully I learned through intensive research just what to give him as suggestions on how to deal with me.  Firstly, be encouraging before a run and make sure I stick to my running schedule.  (Yes, this does mean you probably need to make one of those too.)  With this in mind, Genki Husband was told not to give me compliments in front of others since it embarrassed me (like passerby’s didn’t know already I was a newbie with all the huffing going on…)  Finally I instructed him to not allow me to quit during a run unless he would tell I would not make it another mile.  He’s a soft-hearted person but he was able to manage to stick to this rule most of the time.  So these were a few of my personal ground rules that I had to setup with my running partner but you may have different goals and methods that keep you running the race.  Think about what you want and let your partner know how you mentally work so you both can enjoy the runs together.

While I have setup the groundwork here, I would encourage you all to do your research and learn what will work for you.  Some of my favorite sites that may help:

1.  Sparkpeople: Look for groups to join that will send you messages and team goals to accomplish)

2.  Pinterest: When feeling lazy go for search or even setup a collection of pins that will cheer you up or motivate you each time.  Follow along to my Pinterest page and you can see I have multiple motivation boards.

3.  Blogs: Such as Genki Kitty, Runners World, & Fitness RX.

4.  Magazines: Read when you are feeling lazy and it might encourage you.

5.  Hired help: Such as local gym trainers, running instructors (maybe even your local HS running coach), boot camps, & etc.

6.  Running groups in your area through gymsFind local groups easily in this database that meet weekly or monthly and then make a commitment. Or here.

7.  Monthly Goal Chart and stick to it (maybe setup a ‘present’ that you will get to have at the end if you complete all of your goals.  This can be something simple like go out for drinks with a group of friends, a new running outfit, that purse you’ve had your eye on or even just a nice cookie from a fancy bakery.)

8.  Look for runners around you – In our gated community people would rather mouth-open stare at runners than actually do fitness themselves but in your area it might be different.  Try to pay attention to other runners around you – wave to them, or stop them in action one day and ask if they would like a running partner.  You will be surprised at how many people actually would love to run with someone too but have no one available.  You could create a great friendship this way just by stepping out of your comfort zone.  Be careful though to ask people whom look likeminded and not those that may have alternative directions.  In my personal experience, I have been ‘courted’ without even knowing it – apparently some people go to gyms for dating sessions instead of for health purposes.  You can do an online search from Road Runners Club of America here. Or on Cool Running.

9.  Large Fit Dogs are also great as running partners.  While I would never suggest you adopting a furry baby for the mere purpose of having a running partner, what type of blogger would I be if I did not mention them for running inspiration.  Our furry pup is 8 years old so she does not really appreciate the sport of running but she does love walking and hiking.  Together we go on daily walks of 1.25 miles, sometimes twice a day.  When Genki Husband is home, we tend to go on longer walks together with Furry Pup about 2-3 miles in length.  We have setup a schedule so now she comes to me when it’s time for her daily walk.  Rather, she more or less demands we go out on our walks.  She’s a cavalier king charles spaniel so running isn’t in her genes.  Larger dogs are built to take runs so it is something to think about if you have a furry baby or were already looking into adopting.

10.  Commit to a goal such as a marathon.  There are numerous marathons all year around so just look up your area or your destination on this site for marathon dates and times.  Simply put in your country and specific location and you will be given the entire year worth of marathons available.  It gives a list in order by date. (Marathon Guide Website)

Finding a running partner may take a bit of work but the usefulness of another person around with the same mindset can really take your occasional workouts into something more of substance.  It has changed my life and I’m sure it will change many of yours.