I’ve been running on and off now for about two years. The majority of that time has been spent running on my own, which I’ve been quite happy with. I enjoy listening to music and getting some head space. I have always found that when I take part in a race I tend to run faster than I would on my own. The surge of the crowd going forward tends to propel me along and keep me going.
This year I’ve signed up to do three marathons with a buddy of mine. The same one who got me into running in the first place. As we decided to do the marathon together we figured we should probably start training together for it too.
Here’s what we found:
Motivation: hardly a ground breaking statement, but running with someone certainly motivates you more. Not just the fact that you are running side by side but the fact that you agree to turn up and meet at a certain time and place and commit to it. For the last couple of weeks we have been going to the Phoenix Park early on Saturday mornings to do long runs. That means being out of bed by 7am in the morning and turning up whether its warm, cold, wet or windy out. I’m far more likely to roll over and go back to sleep when I’ve to run on my own.Distance / Pace: on our long runs we tend to adapt very easily to a pace which suits us both. For long runs I find the pace is key. Too fast and you burn out too soon. Too slow and you get kind of bored. Keeping a steady pace where we can chat as we run tends to result in us covering much more ground. We set ourselves weekly goals of what we might like to cover distance wise and so far every week we have broken that goal quite naturally. Our last run of 32km took about three hours and the time literally flew by. We were done and dusted by 11am.
Technique: lately I’ve been reading quite a lot of running related books. One which I am finding particularly interesting is Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. There are loads of helpful tips in the book covering everything from breathing to the length of your stride to which part of your foot is best to land on. It’s easy to understand and by the time Saturday comes round I tend to have a couple of new techniques for us to try out and see how they fit with us. Last week we worked a little on nasal breathing. It might sound stupid but breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth while you are running is not exactly as easy as it sounds.Hydration: my running buddy is not great at keeping hydrated while he runs. I’m the opposite. I find I’m quite in tune with when my body needs water and have always made a point of drinking enough while I’m taking part in a race, whether that be a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon or a full marathon. To keep on top of it we trial running with water bottles in our hands or using a water belt to see how comfortable it is to run with. It’s a great way to try out what works best for a marathon. In addition we have been trying out various types of gels as some of them can be quite harsh on the stomach, something which you don’t want when running a marathon. It’s all about finding the right fit.Friendly Rivalry: apart from being good fun, a bit of rivalry I find tends to help push me that little bit more. If my running buddy does a half marathon in 1.56 then you can be sure at the next one I’m going to want to do 1.55. It keeps you on the top of your game and naturally makes you strive harder.Post Mortem: after each long run we tend to do a post mortem on how we performed. Did we drink enough water or are we really thirsty. Was our pace ok or are we now gasping for breath. Did we stretch enough, something which I’m pretty bad at I have to admit. Certainly a point to work on. We also make sure to congratulate ourselves on getting out of bed and actually going on the run in the first place. There is nothing more rewarding than having a long run done on a Saturday morning and having the rest of the weekend to relax knowing you have put in the work.
If you do run and you don’t currently have a running buddy, maybe give it a try and see if it makes a difference. BUT make sure you choose the right one!