Be Your Own Running Buddy! Tips for Solo Running

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When I first got into distance running, I was part of a team. I have shared my story on my blog before, but when I didn’t make the volleyball team junior year, I was so lucky to have found high school cross country. I am not sure I would have developed such a love for running initially if it wasn’t for my teammates. I still felt like the new kid and school and finding this incredible group of supportive teammates who became friends was just what I needed. Even when we were faced with tough workouts or we were sore from a meet or training session, it always helped to have the encouragement of my teammates and the conversation to help get through it. I was able to really enjoy each run.

When I graduated high school and moved on to college, I wasn’t running as much. There were 5ks here and there and I would run on the treadmill or outside when I could find the time, but it was nothing like high school. I think part of it was not having that supportive group to run with me. There’s something about having a buddy or a group to run with that just makes it much more fun. It also holds me accountable when I schedule a run with a friend or have a running group meetup. 

When I moved to New Hampshire after college, I needed a change. I figured it was as good a time as any to get back into running regularly. I found that it was a great way to connect with co-workers and new friends by getting them to do races with me. However, the training was done all on my own. As the years went on, and I eventually became very passionate about half and full marathon training. I became accustomed to doing all training runs on my own. But what is that transition like? How do you go from a fun group of other runners or a running buddy to spending hours on the road with just yourself? It’s not an easy transition, but at this time, it is something that we are all being faced with daily if we still want to get out for our runs during this time of “social distancing”. 

Here’s what I have learned over the years, and how I have become my own running buddy! 🙂 

Follow a training plan – This may not sound relevant, but I find that it’s harder to skip a workout when I have it written down on paper or virtually on an app like Training Peaks. When you have a workout buddy or a running club, it helps to hold you accountable. You know that if you don’t go, you’ll be hearing about it from your running buddies and you don’t want to let them down. Even if you aren’t training for a race, a training plan and schedule can be incredibly helpful. If you have a physical training plan on paper, I also highly recommend crossing off each workout once you complete it. This habit will help encourage you to get out there and get your run done. Usually, apps like Training Peaks will turn green once completed and synced with your running watch, and they will turn red if the day passes and you didn’t complete it. It may sound silly, but I hate seeing that red box! It’s a little bit of extra encouragement to get me out the door for my runs.

Listen to a podcast or audio book – Depending on the type of running workout that I have on the schedule, it helps to keep my mind occupied to have something fun to listen to while running. Some of my favorite podcasts are “Run, Selfie, Repeat”, “Run This World with Nicole DeBoom”, “Run4PRs”, and “Clean Sport Collective”. I have also found that I like “Business Wars” on Spotify. I know that some people would rather think about anything other than running, while running, but I can’t seem to get enough! Audio books can also be very enjoyable. Some of my favorites have been “Marathon Woman” and “Let Your Mind Run”. I am currently listening to “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. Find out what you enjoy most! Try out some various genres and podcasts to see what’s best for you! I love Audible and Apple Podcasts.

Get connected with running apps – There are so many options out there to track your runs. I have really enjoyed using the Garmin app for my running watch, but I have also used a fitbit in the past as well. Garmin allows you to collect “badges” for achievements like running on certain holidays like Thanksgiving or Global Running Day or running a specific distance in an activity like a 5k or marathon. You can also do step challenges too or create your own challenge. Your running watch can also be connected with apps like Strava or RunKeeper. This allows you to connect with friends and share your runs to be able to “like” and comment. You can also stay virtually connected with clubs on Strava. You can find clubs near you or anywhere in the world. On Strava, you also have the ability to join challenges like a distance challenge or various virtual races like a 5k, 10k, half or full marathons. Strava also gives you the ability to compare yourself against other runners on “segments” that you normally complete as part of your runs. 

 
Get connected on social media – I know there are mixed opinions on this one, but I have personally come to enjoy staying connected to friends and friends I have met virtually as well. There are so many great facebook groups out there to share running tips and get advice. Sometimes you may want to vent about a training run that didn’t go so well, or maybe you want to share a photo or stats from a recent run to chat about all things running. Sharing on apps like Instagram can also be very therapeutic to me. Even if nobody looks at my recent story or post, it still helps me to feel a sense of connection after solo runs. 
 
“LiveTrack” your runs – This is also related to running apps, but I have found that sharing my weekly long runs through the Garmin “LiveTrack” feature not only helps to make me feel safe that my family knows where I am during long runs, but also connected. There are various options, but essentially you can send email updates to those you choose during a run. You can also use the “Group Track” feature as well if you have friends running in other locations too.  
 
Call a buddy! – I’ll admit, I don’t normally do this, but if your headphones are compatible with your phone, who’s to say you can’t give a friend a call during your run. Maybe find someone who is also running so they don’t mind your panting. I only do this when I get a call during a run and it’s usually only for a few minutes. 
 
Use it as a time to reflect – We are often so busy in our day to day lives that our runs become a nice time to self reflect. I have come to find running as a type of therapy for me, and I absolutely love getting in deep thought during my runs or just letting my mind go free. I try to just enjoy my time alone 🙂
 
Listen to music! – I know this is a go-to for many runners. I love using Spotify to make my own playlists, browse for Spotify playlists, or use ones made by my friends or other random users. 
 
Get a virtual running coach – I know that this really helped me stay accountable. I appreciated being able to reach out to my coach when I had a tough training run and celebrate successes along the way as well! If you’re interested in working with me as your running coach, feel free to send me an email at runfreeordienh@gmail.com, direct message me on Instagram at @runfreeordienh, or you can fill out the “New Runner Inquiry Form” at http://www.runfreeordienh.com/coaching/

If you’re used to running with a friend or a group, transitioning to running completely on your own can be tough, and you may find that some days it’s tough to find the motivation to get out the door. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Have some fun with it and try out different methods to make running on your own more fun! Comment below what works best for you for those solo runs! Feel free to reach out with any questions you have on the apps I’ve shared as well. Happy Running!

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