Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.