How to Find the Ideal Running Partner


If one platonic running partner (or more) to whom you’re perfectly suited sounds appealing, then it’s time for you to hunt for your match.

The following was adapted with permission from Running That Doesn’t Suck by Lisa Jhung (Running Press)

Finding the ideal running partner has some similarities to finding a life partner. Maybe you get a good partner vibe from someone in your running club; another participant at a race; or someone you see often or have seen on a running route you like.

Or maybe you don’t find your partner while you’re actually running, but you discover that someone in your exercise class, office, school, or dorm is also interested in starting a non-sucky running routine and you think you might be able to bear (and maybe even enjoy!) logging some miles with them.

You may think you have the perfect running partner, and maybe you do. But like any relationship, problems can arise. Here’s how to navigate and troubleshoot some common problems.

What to do if your partner is running too fast

Quick fix: Ask them an open-ended question like, “Are you religious?” or “Who was your first love?” while running and they’ll inevitably slow down while using their breath to talk.

Long term: Have a heart-to-heart with them about paces and expectations. Schedule runs with them when you feel like a good ass-kicking or if you’re mainly running with a partner for the accountability factor, and meet them at a designated time and place but let them know you’re going to run at your own pace and that they can go ahead. Or meet them partway through their longer run (the later part), and run a shorter portion with them.

What to do if your partner is running too slowly

Quick fix: Slow your own pace, and get over it. It’s okay to run slower than you intended once in a while.

Long term: If they’re insistent on partnering up day in and day out, have a heart-to-heart with them. Schedule runs with them when you need a recovery run, and don’t feel badly about finding another partner or group (or go it alone) on days when you want to push your pace. You won’t be satisfied with a run if, at the end, you know you didn’t push yourself and you were looking to on that particular day. (But you’ll survive if that does happen.)

What to do if your partner won’t shut up

Quick fix: Tell them that you’re really going to focus on the running for a little while, or blurt out something shocking, like “I’m considering cannibalism!”

Long term: If they don’t get the hint, consider a new partner… like a dog.

What to tell your running partner if you’re not in the mood/would rather run alone that day

Quick fix: Explain that you already have plans to run with someone else and need to catch up one-on-one with that person (if this is true). Explain that you’re getting more into mindful running and need to run solo for a while. Be honest and tell them you look forward to running with them the next time.

Long term: If this becomes a regular feeling you have on the day you’re slated to run with said partner, it’s time to break up.

What to do if you want to break up with your running partner

Quick fix: None (sorry); explain that you want to run alone for whatever reason; explain that maybe you’re just not compatible as running partners.

Long term: Don’t do it over a text message; rather, have a heart-to-heart. Explain you want to run alone or that you aren’t sure you’re compatible partners for whatever reason (pace, time or location preferences, etc.). There’s no need for a personal attack—stress personal running factors and preferences, and they should understand.

Running With Your BAE

Some couples run together every day. Some couples break up after trying to run together once. The same rules apply with a significant other running partner as with a platonic running partner, though, since more is at stake, there are more rules.

First, use conflict resolution. Romantic couples tend to have more conflict than platonic couples. (More passion! More heated discussions! More fully loaded conversations! More grudges!) If you want to stay a couple, you can’t very well just ditch them as a running partner with no explanation, so be sure to practice the first five rules of a healthy running relationship and adjust as necessary. Still not working? Save your relationship. Don’t run together.

Running With a Dog

Studies have long shown that owners of dogs take more steps per day than non–dog owners. (Gotta walk that dog!) Get yourself a pooch that needs to run or else they tear apart your furniture or act out in other ways, and you’re bound to head out for runs and long walks more than not. Some dogs start wagging their tails or jumping up and down excitedly at the sight of your running shoes. Others learn to skillfully manipulate you with their puppy dog eyes when they’re longing for a run.

Dogs can be ideal running partners. They go wherever and whenever you want, and not only do they not complain, they’re eager and excited every time.

Related Articles