Rules of the Run: Being a Good Running Buddy and Team Dynamics

Make the most of your training partners, don’t piss them off. Yesterday I talked about the friendships that can formbetween running partners and teammates; if you’re spending enough time training together you certainly hope you get along with each other!

happy dancer

Nope...not everyone's going to love everyone else...even if you're a happy dancer. (Art Credit: Cait Chock)

But let’s be frank, in reality not everyone is going to like everyone else…it’s the truth. Even the nicest person in the world may not be best friends with everyone. Sometimes it’s not that you guys don’t exactly dislike each other but just don’t have personalities that mesh well. It’s okay, so long as things don’t get ugly and impact your training in a negative way. Extra drama on the track is not a good thing.

How to lose friends really fast on the track:

* Constantly one-stepping your partner in every single run. In a group there will always be dynamics involved and the faster guys will typically be in the front. That’s okay, but what I’m talking about is if there is just one person who always has to be just a bit ahead of everyone else. Fix it: Sometimes this isn’t intentional and the runner doesn’t mean to slight their partners, so speaking up or saying something is the first thing to do. You can do it jokingly, “Hey there speedy, you keep one-stepping me.” If that doesn’t work, maybe just don’t run with them for awhile until they get the message. If you’re on a team here it’s a little trickier…so tread carefully.

* Racing in workouts. Having partners for tough workouts are usually preferable: they help share the pacing duties, tow you along when you’re feeling tired, push you just a little bit harder, and the company is nice. But, what can really kill a team is if every workout is a full-on race…we know the difference and it’s when egos start to get involved. Fix it: As hard as it is, if your teammate is racing, just let them go, try to be the bigger person. If you (and if you’re on a team, if all of you guys) get sucked in, in the end you’ll only be hurting yourselves and your long term performances.

track race

(Art Credit: Chock/Leung Art)


* Complaining…all…the…time. Yes, we all have days where we’re sore, tired, and may not be all too jazzed to be busting out 400 repeats, it happens. But constantly complaining or being negative is toxic because it drags everyone else down and in a sport that is so mental it effects the workouts. Going into each run dreading it is not going to win you point in the motivational factor and you’ll be more likely to not put in your best effort. Fix it: Cut the baggage. Haha…if you can, steer clear of the negative talker or at least distance yourself from them. If you can’t get away, just don’t feed into it…instead say something in a positive tone like, “Okay guys, let’s go now…time to warm-up…let’s get it done!”

* The rebel without a cause. Sometimes there is that person that just decides they are going to do whatever they are going to do regardless of the ‘planned workout’ or what you want to do. If you’re on a team this would be the person looking to miss runs, slack off, or argue with the coach about the workout. Usually this person thinks they know best and find it their duty to tell you why and hopefully get you to do the same. Fix it: Avoid this person…they really don’t know what they’re doing…just let them do their own thing and ignore them.

* The chick factor.
I’m going to use this term to refer to catty ‘Mean Girls’ type of behavior; and hey, guys can be offenders too! ;) We know not everyone will get along but some groups get really ugly and you all know what I mean. Sadly in cases like this it usually comes down to getting a third party involved or ousting a particular negative person out of the group…coaches hate dealing with this. Fix it: Can’t we all just get along? No, okay…let’s get a new group.

Now, this isn’t to say that an offender shouldn’t be allowed to amend their ways and regain your ‘good side.’ It’s a matter of what the offense is, the situation, and how genuinely sorry they are. From experience, once a one-stepper not always a one-stepper, so do cut runners some slack. ;)

Groups we love!

Finding the ideal, blissful running group or partner can be tough. Being brutally honest I’ve tended to gravitate towards guys because there is usually less drama…BUT get the right kind of runnerchicks together and you can have magic because I’ve also been really lucky in finding some really awesome runnerchicks…so like I said it’s all just about finding the right, drama-free fit.

1) What do you look for in a training partner, group, or team?

2) What some things or traits that really grind on you when it comes to running partners or group dynamics?

3) Ever been guilty of not so cool behavior and changed your ways?

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13 thoughts on “Rules of the Run: Being a Good Running Buddy and Team Dynamics

  1. I think most of us fall into these every once in a while without realizing it. So long as it doesn’t become a habit, you can still be a great teammate. I totally second them, especially about complaining.

  2. I run solo so I guess what I look for in a training partner is a sturdy treadmill with room for my drink bottle and my iPod!
    When I was training with a group earlier last year my running partner was a 70 year old guy nicknamed ‘Elf’ we had great fun running together, kind of like a surrogate grandfather who kicked some running butt!

  3. I just recently started running with a couple of people a few times a week and there is definitely a learning curve with it! One thing that bugs me is people who claim to run a certain pace but in reality run much slower/faster each time. I always feel like I’m doing something wrong!

    • u pegged one of my TOP pet-peeves…people who lie. on paces/times/etc…i don’t judge if u’re a certain paced runner, just know ur pace and be honest…mmmk! :)

  4. Great points! I have to say that I truly think the dynamic with female runners is tough. I’ve NEVER been on a team where every girl gets along, drama finds large groups of girls I swear! But I have made some incredible friends and finally found a girl I can train with an be friends with and that is like finding gold! The rest of the time I will stick to training with guys, and as a result half of my friends are 40-50 year old guys!:)

    • “finding gold” < — exactly!!! i’ve found a few time and trust me it’s taken some digging. ;) umm, guilty of the same kinda friend scenario u’re rocking too…lol.

  5. excellent points! after reading this i realize that i was totally guilty of one-stepping girls on my team haha. The other freshmen were just a little too slow so I was constantly pulling them along – but no one ever said anything! :( oops. lol. racing workouts was a big no-no; if someone tried to race, one of the seniors would have no problem issuing a “um, what the f was that? stick to the right pace next time”. I still haven’t found a good running partner in my post-team career! need to get on that, speed workouts all by your lonesome kinda suck!

    • haha…we’re all guilty i think at one point. ya…as for keeping racing workouts in check, i think the same quotage is dead on…i just had to ‘clean it up’ for advice in the article. :)

  6. i think its important to find someone that is a similar type of runner as you. i usually am pretty good about just going with the flow as long as people are a similar pace to me. when people are way faster…i get anxious and feel like i am holding them back. when they are really negative…i feel like my run really suffers as well. i love running with people where i dont need to worry about all those things and the miles just fly by in conversation!

  7. Pingback: There Aren’t Any Ref’s for Running: Rules of the track and running etiquette |

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