I’ve only been truly actively exercising for a little over 5 years now, and in all the training I’ve logged, I can tell you without a doubt that having someone to train with has been the key to my completing the assigned training. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally skipped a workout where someone was willing to meet up with me. How many workouts have I skipped that I was doing on my own? Too many to count. Without someone there it’s just easier to nix the workout and decide you can make it up another day.
Scott Smith and me before the start of Little Rock Marathon in 2011
Depending on the event I was training for, and whether a friend was training for the same thing, my training primary training partner has changed from time to time. But I’ve always had one, and I realize this is likely the single biggest reason I’ve seen the success in completing the different events that I’ve done.
Me and Lynn Aaron after finishing the Goofy Challenge in 2012
The training partners I’ve had haven’t always been the same speed as me either. Sometimes they were faster, sometimes they were slower. Sometimes we run side-by-side, other time we’re doing the same run but at our own pace. Somehow for me, even when I wasn’t right next to my training partner knowing that they were out there suffering through the same miserable workout that I was made it easier for me to get through it.
Petey Elliotte and me during the Ragnar Tennessee Relay in 2013
It’s also about accountability… Like I mentioned early, I can’t even begin to count the number of workouts I skipped where I was doing the workout on my own. But when someone was meeting me? I can’t remember ever missing one of those workouts. Having someone to call you a day or two before, and make sure you’re still planning on making it. Some days you’re into it, some days you aren’t. That’s OK, and that’s to be expected. But having a training partner ensures that when you’re having a bad day/week, they’ll drag you out there anyway. And when they’re having a bad day/week, you drag them out there.
Me and Von Ralls at Olive Branch CrossFit in 2014
Sometimes the good/bad parts can happen DURING the workout. One of my best friends, Scott Smith, and I used to run together EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND, almost without fail. Life has gotten in the way, and injuries and other stuff have kept us from continuing that pattern. But when we did run together, he typically felt good at the beginning of the run, when I was hating life. It never failed, we’d get started, and within a mile or two, I’d be having thoughts in my head of quitting. But because Scott was out there with me, I pushed through, and kept going. Later in the run, I’d be feeling really good, and he’d be having the thoughts of wanting to quit. But because I was out there with him, he pushed through, and would finish the workout.
Brad Montgomery and me during a training run at Stanky Creek in 2015
I’ve been lucky in being able to find training partners. My current training partner, Brad Montgomery, does long rides and long runs with me on the weekend. It’s typically not a matter of IF we are doing something, but what time are we starting, and where are we going. He has only ever done running races, but he’s up for doing the training rides with me that I needed to do while training for my next triathlon.
What if my friends aren’t interested in training with me?
Don’t have any existing friends that are into the same things you’re into? I’d bet there’s a local group you can find to run with. Join them for group runs, and you’ll make a couple of friends that you can meet up with at other times when a group run isn’t available. I just can’t stress enough how much it will improve your likelihood of success for whatever event or goal you’re training for.
Good luck, and if you live in the Memphis area and need a training buddy, hit me up on Twitter (@thirstyrunner), and I’ll join you if I can!