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Who Makes The Best Type Of Running Buddy?

In an effort to beat the winter blues and keep my workouts interesting during the colder months, I recently tried out five different running buddies in one week. From my dog to my husband to an exasperating family jog, I tested every combination and am here to report back on what I think are the (many) pros and (minor) cons of each partnership. If you’re in the market for a new running buddy or just looking to mix it up, read on to find the best one for you.

Family
To start things off, my husband and I decided “it would be fun” to go for a run as a family. After spending thirty minutes trying to get ourselves and our toddler dressed in weather-appropriate clothes, packing enough snacks to head off any tantrums, and trying to find the dog’s leash, we headed out. We alternated pushing the dead weight of a jogging stroller and handling the sprinting dog. We probably looked like a traveling circus to our neighbors. We came home more exhausted from laughing at the ridiculousness than from the actual run, but it was worth it.

Pros: There’s no better way to set a healthy example for your kids than to exercise as a family. And not only do you get to spend time together, but older kids who can run with you will also burn off some of that never-ending energy. Bonus points if you have little ones and get an extra workout from pushing a stroller.

Cons: Getting the whole gang together can feel harder than running a marathon, but if you manage to hit the nap/snack/good attitude sweet spot, it can be a truly fun workout that will leave everyone tired and happy.

Significant other
I was prepared to hate running with my husband- he’s much taller aka faster, he doesn’t run as often, and he spits a lot (eww) but I had a surprisingly fun time. We didn’t exactly run into the sunset hand-in-hand but we talked, joked, and his faster pace forced me to bring my A-game.

Pros: You can spend quality time together, motivate each other, and studies show that working out as a couple can improve your relationship.

Cons: It can be hard to coordinate two busy schedules and find the time for a joint workout, but even if you can make it work once a week, you’ll reap plenty of benefits.

Dog
I have two dogs- one who sprints between every tree and one who consistently lags three feet behind on walks. Needless to say, my attempts at a canine 5k went to the dogs. But if I had a furry friend who was happy to heel and had the stamina to keep up, I would definitely run with Rover on the regular.

Pros: You get a motivated partner who’s always up for a workout, you spend time bonding with your pet, and you save time by combining your workout with Fido’s.

Cons: If your pooch tends to lunge ahead, hang back, or gets distracted on walks, the problems will likely be magnified on a run. You’ll get more of a workout trying to get in sync than from the actual run. But if you’re truly determined, some simple obedience classes might correct any issues.

Runner friend

There’s nothing like working out with a fellow runner. They just get it, you know? I absolutely loved running with my pal because not only does she understand the ins and outs like no one else, but she’s also a genuine friend and we can talk about everything from our kids to our favorite Real Housewives franchise.

Pros: Another runner will understand the intricacies of your training and be able to offer great insight and advice. The conversation will make the miles fly by.

Cons: It might be a little tough to make your schedules match if you’re both training for different races, but even meeting for an easy couple miles will be a welcome and fun break.

Yourself             
Not to sound conceited, but I was kind of my favorite person to run with during this little experiment. Obviously I wasn’t carrying on amazing conversations (out loud anyway) and didn’t really motivate myself to run any faster, but for me there’s nothing better than the quiet of riding solo on a run.

Pros: You never have to worry about anyone’s schedule but your own, you’re totally in charge of the workout, and there’s no better way to clear your head than with a long peaceful run all to yourself.

Cons: Social butterflies may feel lonely or crave the camaraderie of others on a run. You may slo find the long ones particularly boring. But give yourself a chance and try a few miles alone; you may surprise yourself with what great company you actually are.

Alison Barsalona

Alison Barsalona

Alison Barsalona started running when her best friend decided they should join the cross-country team in high school. After trading running for the equestrian team in college, she found her way back to the treadmill when she realized her gym subscribed to Bravo and Food Network. She's lived in six states and always finds the best routes to run in each new town as soon as she moves in (right after finding the best pizza place). A new mom, she now lives in Delaware and is busy perfecting the art of the jogging stroller.