Find Your Running Wingman

August 23, 2012 9:00 am 8 comments

Joining a Running Group or Finding a Friend to Improve Motivation

Tell me please. Where would Captain Kirk be without Spock?  Where would peanut butter be without jelly? Where would Ferris Bueller be without Cameron Frye?  Nowhere.  They would be nowhere.  So you too must find your wingman. Finding a wingman may seem daunting at first, but if you get creative, you will absolutely find your perfect running partner.

1. Take Your Kids
I grew up running with my mom, so I’m a huge advocate of running with your children.  Younger kids love to be included in grown-up activities, and when you’re running alongside them, you’re teaching them how to set, follow through, and attain their goals (even when the task at hand may be difficult).  Even pushing a little one in a stroller can be enough to get you running.  My sister often reminds me that when my niece was two she ran with her in a jogging stroller.  When they approached a big hill my niece cheered and shouted, “Go Mama! Go!”  I mean seriously, if nothing else, run so your kids think you’re more amazing than they already believe you to be.

2.  Join A Club
I joined my first running club only two years ago, and I admit, getting up the courage to show up on the first day was the worst part of the whole experience.  A running club can give you a constant in your exercise routine that will carry you through your weekly training.  It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people who can help get you motivated even on your worst days, because somehow it’s easier to show up for a run if you’ve got another person (or small group) who’s counting on you to be there too.  Most large cities have a chapter of USA Fit, and often, small running shops have loads of information regarding local training groups and group runs.  If those reasons don’t twist your arm, join a running group for the sweet discounts you get on gear and race registrations.

3.  Bring Him (or Her) Along!
The most obvious solution (to me anyway) to finding a running buddy is to invite your partner.  If he’d rather be on the couch with a bag of chips and a game of Mario Kart, invite a friend or your sister or your brother or your friend at work who’s always complaining that she never has anyone to workout with.  You have lots of options and zero excuses.  Even the most introverted among us has someone she can ask to go along.

4.  Bring Lance Along
I’ll do pretty much anything in order to listen to music constantly, and while sneaking in moments at the office or in the car to give something a good hard listening to is ok, my daily run is my time to load up my ipod with a new album or two and give them a test drive. Podcasts are also wonderful ways to get going, and there are lots of free downloads that you can listen to that are fitness oriented.  “Couch to 5k” is a great one to get you going, and I also use the fitness application on my ipod that has famous athletes offering praise as you hit certain milestones. Imagine my surprise when I ran my fastest mile and at the end of my run, Lance Armstrong congratulated me.  (Please though, for safety’s sake, don’t have the volume up so loud that you can’t hear traffic.)

5.  Get A Dog (or Borrow One)
I’ve mentioned before that I have a Chihuahua.  Contrary to popular belief, Chihuahuas are not runners.  Anyone who is privileged enough to know one or own one, knows that they are barely even walkers.  I gave up trying to run with the little guy ten years ago when, two blocks into a five-miler, he sat down in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing me to carry him home.  Most large dog breeds and some smaller ones too (Jack Russell terriers love to run) make excellent running companions and are often highly trainable, and if you don’t have your own dog, borrow one from a neighbor or a friend.

Essentially, you really do have tons of options when it comes to finding a buddy to help get you out there running.  You’ll find too, that when you bring your wingman along, you’ll be running for longer periods of time, more often, and be having more fun than you really thought was possible.  After all, Maverick was nothing without Goose.

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Written by Sarah H. Nawrocki

Sarah H. Nawrocki

Sarah H. Nawrocki is a writer, avid runner, and an accomplished artist and designer who has lived and worked from Honolulu to New York City and multiple points in between. For the last three years she has been running and working in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys listening to music, drinking coffee, telling jokes, and playing with her beloved Chihuahua, Pablo.

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