This week is a good week.
I rocked a killer tempo on Tuesday. I met Joe for some early morning, fast-ish miles today, and I have a date with Tami on Friday. Saturday, it looks as if I'll be running 10 miles with the group before hitting up a Saucony event at Three Rivers Running Co. And, still within the seven-day window, Kim and I ran pre-Dirty Girls and the event itself.
While I do enjoy a bit of solitude in running, especially for quality workouts (I want to train myself to run hard on my own), it's nice to have a cadre of runners who will put up with me - for 3 miles or 10. I've come to depend on them in the past 9 months to get my butt out of my bed, to get me to run long to stay in shape. They've pushed me to work harder, run better and be stronger.
The process, though, hasn't been without some lessons. Namely that Runner + Runner doesn't always equal Match Made in Heaven. Just as in life, there are things we can do to ruin what seems like a great relationship. In order to foster the BRF (best running friend) relationship, it's important to do a few things.
1. Be courteous. The basics: Show up and show up on time. Sure, things happen - a sick kid, a sick you, crazy weather, the longest train on the planet. You might have to cancel or be late. Just try to give the person as much head's up as possible. It's why Grilled Cheesus invented smart phones.
But there's more: Bring your own fuel and water, dress appropriately, follow the predetermined route, tie your own shoes, brush your teeth, no spitting/blowing snot rockets in her direction and don't wear headphones (without prior permission).
2. Be honest. About pace, desired mileage, time constraints, your own abilities. It does no one any good if you keep things to yourself as it only allows frustration and resentment to creep in. For example, I am not going to accept an invitation from someone who runs an 8:30 pace for easy runs to do 7 miles at 6 a.m. when I need to be home at 6:45 to tend to Miles. (I'm also not going to expect them to loop me back to the car after a half hour, either.) Rather, my run date ad might look a little like this:
Middle-of-the-pack runner seeks like-legged early bird for mid-week easy runs of 4 to 5 miles between a 9:00 and 9:30 pace. I am willing to travel to Greenway access within 15 minutes of my home but the closer the better. The farther I drive, the less I will run as I do not have childcare past 6:45 a.m. I sometimes pass gas when I run and will pee in the woods. I like coffee, watching the sun rise and talking about the weird things my kid says to me.
3. Be flexible. I'm not talking the splits here or stopping midrun to take selfies of ridiculous yoga poses on rocks. I'm talking about being willing to adapt to your partner's needs. Maybe she's having an off day and needs to slow down - way down - or cut the run short or needs you to shut the front door. Sure, you both might have signed up for something different but a lot can happen in a run and it's important to make sure everyone makes it out alive, uninjured and (moderately) happy.
Also: Be willing to meet at various locations - not just "your" park or most convenient greenway trailhead; go for an evening run every once in awhile if you are a morning bird; accept a third now and again; try a workout with her rather than solely easy runs.
BRF bonus points: Come with post-run food, be willing to go to Starbucks sans shower and like sweaty hugs.
What are your do's and don'ts for running with a buddy?