In Praise of Running Buddies

Quick background: down the hall from my office, there’s a set of blackboards and a little bucket of chalk. Students, faculty, staff, random people on campus tours… basically anyone can share their thoughts and doodles on the board, and then it gets erased nearly every morning. You never know what’s going to appear on these blackboards, and it’s always fun to see what pops up each day.

Yesterday the blackboard’s contents caught my eye, and luckily I had my phone on me so I could snap a picture before it disappeared:

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If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. -African proverb

Since I’ve got running on the brain quite often these days, the first thing that popped into my head when I read this was my running buddy-dom with Colin.

For months, whenever we ran a race together, we ran a race together – side by side the whole way. Then came a race when he had to stop, but it literally hurt me to stop with him (my hamstrings protested like no one’s business), so I kept going after getting his blessing. A few months later I was the one who had to stop during a race and Colin took off with glory and a shiny new PR in his eyes. I felt a bit abandoned and eventually aired my grievances, Colin reminded me how I had abandoned him before, and we came to some kind of understanding. I think.

Anyway, the proverb really rings true for me. The times we’ve separated, one of us has gone on to be fast, and the other has had to rely on self-motivation to keep going. During one race this past March, Colin had to walk after wearing himself out tearing up a giant hill, but told me I could carry on. I ended up running my second-fastest 5K that day because I didn’t have to slow down to a comfortable pace for his niggles, but he ended up struggling until a fellow runner gave him some encouragement in the last mile. On the flip side, we stuck together for the entirety of our longest race thus far, and though we ran slow, we were able to keep each other motivated and felt like we could have kept running after we completed the 4 miles. Clearly we have the ability to go far if we stick together.

The proverb rings true for my other running buddies, too. Drew kept me going during a race when I decided I wanted to give up, and I would probably have crawled most of another race if I hadn’t had Elissa running with and supporting me. I’m still so proud of my first-ever race… I’ve said this a million times on this blog, but I had only ever run 1 mile at that point and ended up running an entire 5K without stopping, all because Colin and Gina ran with me and encouraged me the whole way. Because we ran together, we ran (relatively) far!

So here’s a thank you to my running buddies for sticking with me, encouraging me, humoring me, putting up with horrifically hot summer races, running with me in the dark after work in the freezing cold, putting up with my whining anytime the temperature got extreme (in either direction), and basically for being awesome. I might not have decided to stick with this running thing if it hadn’t been for you!

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What do you prefer, running with a buddy or running alone?

Has a stranger ever encouraged you during a race?

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8 thoughts on “In Praise of Running Buddies

  1. I am typically a solo runner, but when Ben comes with me I end up running faster, because his natural pace is faster than mine, and I hate slowing him down too much. In a race setting, it’s definitely nice to have a buddy to encourage and motivate me, but I’ll be running my half solo. Hoping it goes ok!

    • That’s a whole part of runny buddy-dom that I haven’t really tried out yet – running with someone faster. Colin and I have pretty much the same pace, and the last time I ran a race with Gina (who’s faster) she took off and left us in the dust. I’m interested to see how trail running with Drew will be… he’s faster than I am but I tend to have better endurance. I guess we’ll see how that goes!

      I’m sure you’ll be great in your half! Luckily since you run mostly solo you won’t necessarily need someone else for motivation. Since I’m used to running with someone I have a hard time running alone. I need to get better with that!

    • The few times I’ve kicked myself out the door to run alone I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m a little too dependent on having someone else come with me to get me out the door most of the time though! 🙂 I’ve got several solo races coming up so I need to get better at self-motivating!

    • That’s one thing I love about runners – for the most part we’re so friendly and supportive! High fives and encouragement have helped me through some tough races, so I always try to pay it forward.

    • I have so much more fun when I race with a buddy! When I race alone (and if I forget headphones, which I usually do) I look around and realize I’m the only one around me not listening to music and it makes the race feel much more lonely. I love having someone to chat and joke with!

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