The Art of Partnered Running

Ben often accompanies me on my track speed work, tempo, and steady state long runs. He’s a much stronger and faster runner than I am. I’m grateful to have him along as a running partner whenever I run because 1) I train harder with him around and 2) he’s an excellent water sherpa. We have different running abilities (and personality quirks), but we’ve figured out a system of partnered running that works for us. We have our own personality quirks and what works for me and Ben are not the same things that work when I’m running with another partner.

  1. We discuss goal distance and pace before the work out so we both know what we’re planning on doing.
  2. When Ben accompanies me for a run, the run is *my* training run, so it’s about me and my preferences. I dislike talking when I’m running, so unless it’s absolutely necessary I don’t respond to anything Ben says. In the beginning Ben was a bit unnerved by my stoicism, but now he rolls along with it. We’ve figured out what works for me in terms of motivation. I do like being told what my pace is. I definitely hate being told to run faster when it’s the end of a race. The latter is because I’m a bit of a people pleaser. When I hear that I need to run faster, then I feel like I’m letting the person who said that down because I wasn’t going fast enough. I find it demoralizing because I’m running as hard as I can.When I accompany Ben in his run (I ride a bike while Ben does his long run), then it’s about his preferences. I need to work on keeping up a steady stream of chatter because Ben finds conversation to be a good distraction. Ben finds it weird that I’m perfectly capable of running in complete silence with someone for miles.
  3. You can have a discussion of your preferences at the beginning, but until you’re out there running, you might not really know what you like. If you asked me when I first started running, if I would have had a problem with being told to run faster, I would have said no. After several runs, we both know the answer is definitely yes. After several runs, Ben and I figured out what I like and what works for me. There’s no way I could have anticipated where I want Ben running before we started running together. If I’m feeling good and setting the pace, I want him running next to me. If my pace is flagging a bit, but I could still run faster, then he should move in front and I would follow behind him. If I’m having an awful day, then he needs to come back next to me and allow me to set the pace.
  4. While I’m out running with Ben, I try to demonstrate my appreciation for his presence. I train harder. He makes training harder easier because of the psychological boost in having a partner and because he carries all of the water. I don’t always succeed (Ben might argue that I never succeed) in being appreciative during the run, but afterward the run, I try to do something nice for him as a way of thanking him.
  5. Ben’s learned to put up with me and my cranky mood when I’m out running hard or just finished running hard. He realizes that it’s nothing personal about him and during those times, it’s really just about me. When I’m running hard, I don’t have the cognitive resources to modulate my emotions. The crazy comes out of me.

Last Saturday we had a really great steady state long run (for me). I wasn’t sure how well I would run considering that I hadn’t been running much. I wondered if some of my fitness from Wineglass had receded a bit. The fantastic cool weather provided the perfect backdrop. Although I wasn’t feeling great when I started out, I ran really well and ended up running longer than I originally anticipated. We ran into a couple people we knew while out running. They were running back toward home, while we were still running out. Ben thought it would be fun to chase after them, so we cut our turn around short to see if we could catch them. Trying to hunt them down was just the stimulus I needed to keep running hard and fast during the run. I didn’t end up catching up to them, but it was a lot of fun trying.

Mile splits

  1. 8:29
  2. 8:20
  3. 8:16
  4. 8:17
  5. 8:14 (the chase begins)
  6. 8:10
  7. 8:20
  8. 8:22 (I lose them)
  9. 8:28 (for .84 mile)

Total time: 1:13:32 (8:19 pace)
Total distance: 8.84 miles

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Partnered Running

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