Running inspires passion. Those who love it love it: the early mornings, the drive to improve, the taste of fresh air in your lungs. Sharing a common passion with someone is one of the greatest joys in life, especially when that person is your partner. 

ArahiCouple2 (The Arahi 5 are featured in this image)

Exercising with a partner can be thrilling. You’ll have someone to hold you accountable, challenge you, and encourage you. Whether it’s a long run or a breezy couples’ jog, it’s always nice to have someone to talk to. Coupled running has its own unique benefits.

That said, running with a partner isn’t always as simple as it may sound.

Before you venture out on the road or trail together, you’ll want to be aware of a few key considerations not involved in solo running. Unspoken decisions such as pace, the length of the run, and when to break for water now require healthy communication with someone else. Thankfully, this isn’t all that hard –  you’ve just got to know what to plan for.

Benefits of couples running

ArahiCouple1 (The Arahi 5 are featured in this image)

Running as a couple can benefit both your relationship and your running.

Even if you love it, running consistently is tough. There are days when you’re exhausted, busy, or simply unmotivated. Your partner can be a huge help on days like that. With two people invested in exercising together, you’ll be much more likely to get out there and go for it. And once you do, it helps to have somebody encouraging you to push for the finish.

If one (or both) of you is new to running or starting again after a long break, the accountability and encouragement of a partner will be a massive help. And don’t discount the benefits to seasoned runnersa partner can help shake up your routine and even give you some competition (if you both want it, of course!). 

There’s also the social aspect. Many people rely on the social component of running as a major motivator. With new safety considerations impacting race events and running groups, running with your partner can be a safe way to bring that social component back into the mix.

Running with your partner can give each run a different purpose. You might run just for exercise, and it’s ok to keep that as your main goal. But with your partner, you can set other goalsbonding, competitionto keep things fresh and interesting. On a larger scale, you and your partner can coach each other. A goal like “I’m going to work on my form” is much more effective when you’ve got someone who can watch you on a day-to-day basis. 

It’s also just nice to be able to share something like running with your partner. It’s an invigorating way to spend time together, and a nice change of pace (no pun intended) from your average movie or date night.

How to develop a rhythm with a running partner

Gaviota-Couple (The Gaviota 3 are featured in this image)

With all that said, there are some things to keep in mind if you want to run as a couple. Running with a partner requires some pre-planning, especially before the first time.

The top consideration to discuss is pace. Barring an amazing coincidence, you and your partner will naturally run at different speeds, and you’ll each have your own preferred pace. You’ll need to meet in the middle, and agree on ways to communicate your preferences before you head out together.

It makes sense to run at the pace of the slower runner. The simplest way to do this is to let the slower runner lead. But you could also run at the slower pace for part of the run and split up midway, slow things down to a jog but go on a harder route, or run laps on a field or track at different speeds. There are a ton of ways to go about it, but in general, it’s a good idea to start slow if you’re going to run as a couple. You can always speed things up as you learn each other’s pace.

You’ll run into differences beyond pace the more you run together, such as water breaks, how much you prefer to talk, or if you want to listen to the same, different, or no music. You can experiment with all of these until you find something that feels right—like any other aspect of your relationship, just make sure to keep the lines of communication honest and open, with the idea in mind that you’re both trying to make it work

It’s helpful to set expectations before every run. Is this run going to be more social or exercise focused? Is it going to be a race, or are you going to stick together the whole time? If your partner just wants to go for a relaxing jog, the last thing you want to do is start a run in competition mode.

You’ll want to nail down the details too. Plan your route and agree on a pace ahead of time. Make sure both of you know how long you plan on running, and on what schedule. You can still keep a cadence that includes solo runs. But make sure your partner knows when that’s the case, so they don’t feel left out.

Again, some things you won’t be able to control. It might take a month or two to figure out the best way to run as a couple. So take it easy, don’t put undue pressure on your ability to mesh perfectly as a running unit, and don’t sweat it if running with a partner doesn’t come naturally at first.

Fun workouts and races for couples

GaviotaCouple2 (The Gaviota 3 are featured in this image)

It’s fine to simply treat running with your partner as “we’ll do a normal run, together.” There’s something to be said for a light jog and a conversation. But when you have a running partner, it opens up new aspects of a running regimen that wouldn’t work alone.

For example, one of you doesn’t have to run at all. Try a day where one person runs and the other rides along on a bike. This will work for mornings where one person doesn’t feel up for a run, or if they want to focus on watching and coaching the other person. It’s great for when the faster runner wants to push themselves. They can run hard while the biker rides along and encourages them.

Relays and sprints are also an option. Sprint relays can be a great change of pace, though you’ll want to find a track or park where you can do it undisturbed. Long relays are a little odd to set up with two people—one might have to walk ahead to set up for the baton pass. But it’s a blast, and you can only do it properly with a partner.

And then there’s the race. Simple and short, complex, hilly and long: there’s nothing quite like running a race. As with all things couples running, make sure your partner is ok with a little competition. If they just want to go for a jog and spend time together, don’t push them.

It’s all about figuring out what works for both of you. It’s ok for this to be something you do every so often, instead of running as a couple each time you lace up your shoes.

And if you’re unable to make it work at all, don’t worry. Some people may simply prefer running solo (or not at all), and your compatibility as runners isn’t a magic indicator of your compatibility as partners.

Just enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you. It’s Time To Fly™.