why a new running partner is like a first date

A few weeks ago, I did my 18-miler with a running friend I had never actually ran with alone. As I mentioned when I wrote about the run, we turned out to be great running partners. This got me thinking about what exactly makes a good running partner, or more specifically, a compatible running partner. The phenomenon makes me laugh, because it’s almost like going on a date. I don’t really “go on dates” often with people I just met, but the concerns and questions that float through one’s mind must be similar to running with someone new:

Will he/she like the course I mapped? 

Will he/she be mad that there are so many hills?

Will I get nervous to pick up the pace, and run slower than I would like?

Will I feel too slow, and run faster than I would like?

Will we run out of things to talk about?

How am I supposed to find things to talk about for that long?!

There’s nowhere to escape if I want to.

So many questions! There’s no use in thinking about them before the run either, because the only way to find out if it’s going to be okay is to actually start the run. Some people run exclusively by themselves because they don’t want to deal with any of the awkwardness and incompatibility that may go along with running with a partner. Others try to find running buddies as often as possible. To each their own. I’d say I’m somewhere in between. I definitely appreciate the time to think and do my own thing that a solo run provides. It’s also nice to not feel like a run needs to be scheduled or a route needs to be planned. At the same time, sometimes I really like scheduling a date and time to run with someone else, because it gives structure to the entire day, and also makes it easy to commit to a morning run. I also enjoy chatting for most of the run; I’ve had some really good conversations as well as come to some profound conclusions and ideas while talking to running partners. Group runs (upwards of four or five people) are a breed of their own – they usually fly by and almost all of the above questions are inapplicable. You can drop back, you can go ahead, you can be silent, you can say whatever random things you want. No one notices as much. Kind of like hanging out with a large group of friends. As far as pace is concerned, I find that I usually run faster my myself, unless I’m doing an organized workout like a tempo or intervals…then I’ll hang with whoever I’m running with as best as possible, or go ahead if I feel up to it.

After having ran with so many different people over my years as a runner, here is my proposed model for the Ideal, Compatible Running Partner (I’m talking one-on-one):

The Ideal, Compatible Running Partner…

1.) causes you to not look at your watch for several miles at a time,

2.) doesn’t make you answer questions that are along the lines of, so, what is your career plan for the rest of your life? At least, that’s how you interpret those kinds of questions,

3.) doesn’t judge you if you mention you stayed up (or out) late the night before,

4.) doesn’t follow you into the bathroom if you say you need to stop to go and have conveniently found a real bathroom,

5.) respects your choices in training, if that subject comes up,

6.) makes silences not feel awkward or need to be justified,

7.) doesn’t make you ask yourself all of the above questions mid-run,

8.) appreciates a good story, and yes, thinks all your stories told while running are actually good,

9.) makes you glad you didn’t run alone!



Blogger/running buddy spotlight: Brennan!

The person most responsible for the outlook I have had on running thus far in 2013 is Brennan. I met her in the fall as she was training for her first half marathon and seeking shoe advice at the store. Our first run together happened when I really wanted company on an eight-miler and thought I should ask her to join me! From then on we’ve been great running buddies! Side note: I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that her first blog post mentioning me also includes an entire paragraph dedicated to goose poop (complete with statistical evidence). 

Meet Brennan…

Shortly after I started running, I started running distance races on my high school track team. That was a long time ago….Brennan just started racing last fall, and it is really cool to witness the contagious spark she has as a “new” runner. I also have her to thank for getting me more involved in running in the “real world,” or, after being a part of a team, as well as the blog world.  A self-proclaimed “half marathon addict,” she is racing her seventh half marathon this coming weekend, the Nike Women’s Half in DC! I know some of you reading are running; check out Brennan’s blog, Yum Run, and maybe you guys can connect! I am so excited for Brennan and her shiny new PR at Unite on Sunday…I think big things are to come this weekend though, so make sure you head over to her blog next week to see how things went! 🙂

Through the woods and over the river to PA

This post could have a lot of potential titles…such as:

– How to never find half of your running group/why Garmins should have walkie-talkies

– How to have a truly epic destination run

– The road to becoming a legit blogger

– How not to recover after your long run

– Runners are crazy and I wouldn’t change it for the world

….But I’m going to leave it as is. On Sunday, I had some long run plans that were, well, complicated. Normally, I would go over maps online and do calculations ahead of time to figure out exactly what time we needed to end up where, so this would work. But, I was exhausted and opted for extra sleep, thinking, I’m sure it will work out. 

The plan was, Kate was running 20.7 miles from point A. Brennan and I were meeting her fiance at point A to put dry clothes and other such post-run necessities in his car. Kate was arriving at point B to pick up Martin, who would run 16.2 miles. Brennan and I drove to point C, where we were to figure out what time we should leave to run ~1.7 miles up the road to meet Kate and Martin to continue on the run to New Hope, PA. There was a parking lot at this point C, which is why we weren’t directly on their route. It turned out we had more time than we’d thought. We spent the time taking pictures.

“I’ve never taken a jumping picture before! Now that I have a blog I think it’s required!” –> this made logical sense to me at the time….

Eventually we decided the time had come to meet the others down the road. Up is actually a better word to use – the run was uphill immediately. And we felt it. “I’m so glad we both feel like crap,” we agreed once we stopped at the meet-up point. We did some dynamic stretching…and jumping around…and inspecting an abandoned shack on the corner…before we yelled, WHERE ARE THEY, IT IS SO FREAKING COLD! We waited five minutes or so past the time we expected them to reach us. Brennan was convinced we miscalculated, or they were running super fast, and we had missed them. There was no way of knowing (bring to mind the Garmin walkie-talkie feature idea, courtesy of Kate), so we eventually continued on our way. At least we had each other, and we would all meet up at the river!

Me running through the Sourlands.

We saw some peculiar sites while in the woods: a house on top of the mountain that looked as if it was ready for floodwaters to come through, small houses, huge houses, houses with closed front gates, deer, unmarked trailheads (it took some restraint to pass them by…).

Approximately mile six…I’m having a good time (and midfoot striking?! Sweetness).

The scenery changed a bit after was crossed Route 31, the first busy road we came across. The woods were replaced by fields and farms. We saw the occasional horse or herd of sheep. I was so grateful for the bright sun on a cold day, but the wind was pretty brutal! I started to feel much more warmed up and got into a good rhythm as the run went on…much improved from the awkward and stiff first few miles.

Silos = photo op! Photo idea credit (sun placement) goes to me, but the awesomeness that ensued is props to Brennan’s iPhone.
“Should I look at you?” …still learning the whole taking-pictures-while-running-because-I-blog-now thing.

We saw our fair share of pickup trucks along the route, which of course got Kip Moore’s “Somethin’ Bout a Truck” stuck in my head, and I began to daydream of what it would be like to run these sunny roads in summer!

We were getting closer and closer to the river, and brunch! I had a small moment of excitement when we stumbled upon South Hunterdon High School, because for some reason I find it to be like a lost piece of a puzzle when I discover where schools are in New Jersey I have heard of but never seen. I think this is a side effect of high school cross country. Also hosting spike nights at the store.

We felt the elevation start to drop, and we coasted in to Lambertville! When Brennan’s Garmin hit 12 miles somewhere on the way down, I said out loud, “Now, imagine if we turned around right now. That would be a marathon. I wonder what that would feel like.” More on that later.

We passed Full Moon, the cafe where we were planning to meet everyone post-run, and continued on to the bridge. Honestly, the point of that was to say we went to Pennsylvania, I think…also to make the run over 13 miles. I have a slight obsession with bodies of water and therefore running over bridges, so I was all for it.

Picture on the bridge, PA over my right shoulder!

What a great way to end a great run! We stopped at the cafe heading back to end our 13 (13.4, actually) miles of fun…and saw Kate and Martin in the distance approaching us! We yelled and waved, both parties curious and confused as to what had happened. It turned out they left point B a little later than planned, and then made a wrong turn! Conclusion: they were behind us the whole time! They were at our meeting point a good fifteen-plus  minutes after we decided to take off, so in hindsight, what we did made sense. Oh well. Next time we’ll get it right…and maybe I’ll do the 16.2!

I ordered a delicious omelette at brunch, and I didn’t even think I liked omelettes. Best of all…#recoverosas! Let the word be spread. With the hashtag, apparently that is necessary.

recoverosa (n.) – mimosa consumed after a long run, because hydration is important

We came up with all sorts of new terms as we enjoyed our post-run fun. They include: recoverita, rungover, runger/rungry. We are taking suggestions for a word for post-run beer…nothing clever came to us. This is pretty much why this post could be about not recovering properly, FYI.

You need to go here. That is all.

All that beverages-besides-water talk/consumption, plus the fact that I went country line dancing later that evening, and one of the best places ever, the Colorado Cafe. I had been there once before, and I wanted to get a picture for tradition’s sake (and to put it on here, duh), but my phone died randomly just as I handed it to a stranger to take a photo of my friend and me beneath the sign! My luck. Well, there are worse things. Overall, it was the best possible Sunday I can think of. 🙂

The group post-run at Full Moon Cafe with our #recoverosas.