Real Runner’s Handbook
Finding the perfect training partner is a challenge. It’s not enough to have someone who matches your speed; you also have to find someone whose company you enjoy over lots of miles. I have plenty of friends perfect for a dinner party or a coffee chat, but if I had to share a 16-mile run through the desert with some of those same people, it’s highly likely only one of us would return to the trailhead.
My training partners are some of my most cherished friends. Over our shared miles, we’ve celebrated, mourned, bullshitted, chastised, chased, been chased, gotten lost, and made profound discoveries. Even after all that, they still allow me to be seen in public with them.
There are some fundamental tenets of a relationship between running partners—rules that don’t typically apply to friendships “on the outside” (read: in the non-running world).
So, reader, behold! I give you the manifesto of training partners everywhere.
- Anything you say to me during hard intervals or hill repeats cannot be held against you. This includes obscenities, death wishes, and insults of the “your mom” variety.
- If we are racing and I pass you, I reserve the right to smack you on the bum without warning. Don’t want that to happen? You best run faster.
- From time to time, I may show up in mismatched knee socks, shirts with yellowed pit stains, or shorts with holes. Don’t ask questions. Just go with it.
- If our plan is to run 6 miles together, we will run 6 miles together. Even if you’re dragging ass that day. Even if I’m being a whiny brat that day.
- I will not give unsolicited training advice. You will not give unsolicited training advice. We will talk shit about those who give unsolicited training advice.
- If you believe you can do it, I believe you can do it.
- When your self-doubt creeps in, I will still believe you can do it.
- I will not speak of your accidental, yet sonorous, butt toots. You will not judge me for my thigh jiggle.
- The secrets you share on the trail are safe with me. (By the way, that thing I told you during last week’s 14-miler? Thanks for not making your judgy face.)
- I will be genuinely happy for you when you have the best race of your life.
- If you have the worst race of your life, I will bring cupcakes to your pity party, validate your excuses, and stroke your ego for 48 hours. After that, I will lovingly tell you to quit your bitching and forge ahead.
- If you use Google to diagnose your running injury before your doctor’s appointment (even though I very explicitly told you not to), I promise to come over and close your laptop before you become convinced amputation is imminent.
- I will never, under any circumstance, steal a bite of your post-run pancakes when you aren’t looking.
- There will be days when I’d rather hit the snooze button, bail on our planned track workout in favor of happy hour, or just be lazy. And I’d know you would understand. But I won’t do that; I will run with you anyway.
[RELATED: Read this chapter from Susan’s Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Run and see why the right training buddies matter.]