I don’t believe in training secrets. Running is about consistency and persistence, and what you need to know to put together a training program is widely available in a variety of places. There are some things you can do along the way though, to make a challenging process a little more pleasant, and one of them is to find training partners.
The greatest strength of the Sonoran Distance Project is that we have assembled 16 women with similar goals and a desire to help each other be their best. This willingness to work with and for others is a fantastic source of inspiration and support. Running is an individual sport and teammates can only do so much to help you through a workout, but having them there can make the world of difference. There are also lots of cases where on your own you might quit a workout, but when you know a teammate is counting on you, quitting isn’t an option and both athletes benefit.
Training partners are most beneficial when two athletes are close in ability and temperament. If you find this lucky situation then you can do almost all your runs together. While living in Baltimore I ended up living two blocks from the perfect training partner for me, and we ran nearly every step together 80 miles a week for several years. Having each other got us out the door and kept us focused. This experience cemented my belief in the value of good training partners.
When you don’t have a perfectly matched training partner then you need to plan runs and partners based on strengths and weaknesses. Workout days are great for the partner who is just a little faster than you but too much faster can be a disaster, so be careful. Easy days are better with people a bit slower than you, but make sure you aren’t ruining their run by pushing the pace. For this give and take to work keep your partners needs in mind. No one wants to be your whipping post so give and take based on the schedules of those around you if you want the same from them.
Sometimes we all want to be alone and running is great for that, but it is also perfectly suited for long rambling talks on easy days and silent concentration with a group of your peers on hard days. If you haven’t had the joy of being part of running team or club then check the internet for one in your area or strike up a conversation at a local race with someone who finishes near you. Finding a training partner can make training more enjoyable, and being part of a team is a great way to reach your fullest potential.