Few things beat having a dedicated running partner on hand — even virtual running partners on an app like MapMyRun have been shown to help with consistency and speed. The biggest part of getting a friend or spouse to commit to running is showing them exactly how much fun getting in shape can be. If you have a friend or partner in your life who you think has the potential to be a solid training partner, use these tips to get them off to a great start in the sport.
GO ON A WALK
Sometimes, the best way to get someone to start running is to ease them into it. While walking doesn’t seem like a big deal to most, running for some can feel like an extreme undertaking. If you have a friend or spouse who is hesitant to go out for a full-fledged running workout, start them off slowly. Ask them if they’d like to go for a walk, and start the workout off with a good conversation to take the focus away from exercising.
After 10 minutes or so, coax your partner into jogging for a minute or two. Pick a landmark or a road sign off in the distance and suggest you run to that point. Tell them you heard mixing walking and running is a good way to up your calorie count and ease your way into running further. After a minute or two, ease back into your walk.
TAKE THEM SHOPPING
If you have someone who’s interested in running, getting them to purchase running-specific gear will make them more likely to commit to the activity and give it a fair shot. A new running outfit, running shoes or a pair of sunglasses also makes the activity more comfortable and enjoyable when you are running.
The old saying that if you look good, you’ll feel good is true, and getting your partner to feel comfortable while exercising just might go a long way toward getting them to commit to the sport.
If you’re too hard on a spouse or friend, they’ll be more likely to quit. Let them make decisions on which days they want to run and determine their pace. This helps them feel empowered instead of like they’re being forced into doing an activity they aren’t sure they enjoy.
During a run and immediately afterward, be as encouraging as possible. Tell them how great they’re doing and how proud you are that they’re trying something new. Remember how hard it can be to try a new activity and have sympathy for what the other person is going through to get in shape.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
The more interested a person is in the environment around them, the less they’ll concentrate on how hard or how much their legs hurt during a run. If your partner is into nature, pick an easy trail they may not have tried that’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Likewise, if they prefer gym workouts, go to a local track and walk stairs before you complete a few laps. Secluded spots work well for those of us who are homebodies, while more social individuals might prefer if you introduce them to a running group. Whatever the case may be, try to find a running environment that’s conducive to his or her personality, which allows them to feel comfortable and think less about the difficulty of the activity.
DO SOMETHING FUN AFTER
Like kids, the dangling carrot or reward for attempting something you might not want to try is always welcomed. After your runs or workouts, plan something fun together. Head to a coffee shop, find a hot tub to relax in or go to lunch at their favorite restaurant. Making the entire experience fun provides motivation to do it again.
SIGN UP FOR A RACE
Whether you’re a new or experienced runner, a lot of us need goals or a reason to keep pushing day after day. Getting a partner to sign up for a short race like a 5K can be a good way to provide a reason to train.
Try to choose an event that is more fun than serious, and instead of going after a new PR, run the event with your partner at his or her own speed. Costume-themed runs, holiday 5Ks or even an obstacle-style race can be a great way to introduce someone to timed-events and keep them training toward a goal. And getting a medal for the accomplishment is always cool, too!