If you are reading this you probably already know the fantastic impact that running has on your health. But the benefits of running reach even further: hitting the pavements can help you to consolidate and enhance friendships. This article will look at how running can be good for you and your buddies.
What makes a friend?
There are several psychological and social theories about what forms the foundation of a friendship. To put it simply, a friend is someone you like, someone you enjoy spending time with and someone you have a positive relationship with. Friends support and encourage each other.
Friends are good for us, they are people we have fun with. They can lift us if we’re feeling down and they can be a sounding post to bounce ideas off. Having good friends staves off loneliness, which can increase your risk of early death by up to 30 percent (https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/loneliness-increases-risk-of-premature-death/#conclusion).
So, what has this got to do with running? A lot of runners have running buddies — individuals or groups they train with. Some of these people are likely to fall into your ‘bestie’ group. And here’s why….
- Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give, and if you’re training with someone, they get just that. Importantly, running with a friend is usually quality time — there aren’t the distractions of social media, children, and the demands of life in general. You have the time and space to talk and to really enjoy each other’s company. You can share your thoughts and ideas in an uninterrupted and open way.
- Shared experiences. If you’re running with someone you share unique experiences with them – both positive and negative. You both know what it means to have tired legs, to be utterly exhausted, to feel the dread at your alarm clock going off in the early hours of the morning and to have butterflies in your stomach on a race day. You also understand the elation of crossing a finishing line, getting to the top of a steep hill or of achieving a PB. You make shared memories.
- Mutual encouragement. Runners are an incredible group of people – the majority are extremely supportive of each other. It’s likely that your running buddy will encourage you in your training, which can boost your self-confidence and can help you to aim higher.
- Shared interests. If you’re running with someone, by default that means you have a shared interest. Shared interests help us to make connections with others and to strengthen the bonds between us.
- Friends make running fun! Running isn’t always fun. Let’s be honest, long runs can sometimes get a bit dull and there are days we’d rather stay in and watch the telly. But having a friend run with you can completely change this — you can laugh together, moan together, put the world to rights. The time seems to fly much faster when you’re with a buddy!
The bond you have with your running buddy is a unique one. The time and experiences you share together create a special friendship that only runners can truly understand.
I’d like to dedicate this article to one of my best friends and running buddy, Lou – thank you for all the hours we’ve spent together pounding the streets and for all the fun we have!
About the author:
Dr. Emma Short is a mum of two girls, a doctor and a huge fan of running and fitness. She’s a big advocate of lifestyle medicine – addressing how factors such as what we eat, how active we are and how well we sleep impact upon our lives, our health and our well-being.
As well as working as a doctor in the NHS, she is currently training to be a fitness instructor and personal trainer. Follow her at @Emma_thefitnessdoctor