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Six secrets of running with a slower partner

For the most part, I’m a solo joggler. No running groups. No workouts with friends. Just me, my iPod and three multi-colored moleskin Gballz bean bags. I like it this way becausejuggling with partner it gives the most flexibility of schedule, route and pace.

But at times, joggling is lonely. You spend hours on the road without saying a word. Sometimes, on a wintry Chicago afternoon, you won’t even see another person. The silence is secluding. The seclusion feels somber.

This is why on occasion I like to have a running partner. Yesterday, that partner was my wife. She is a spunky, self-proclaimed “non-runner” who just recently started doing 5Ks. She doesn’t joggle and she’s a bit slower than me but she tries hard. When running with someone at a different skill level you have to make some significant adjustments to your normal joggling routine. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful.

Joggling or Running with a Slower Partner

1. Embrace the slower pace. Sure, you’re a stallion itching to joggle your way into the Guinness Book of World Records. But you’re running partner isn’t. One workout session doesth not a world record make. Take it easy and let your partner dictate the pace. You can push them a little, but going too fast will tire them quickly and get rather annoying. Instead use this workout as a “rest/recovery” day. Your weary body will thank you.

2. Plan your path. Solo joggling means maximum path flexibility. You want to add an extra mile or so, no problem. You want to turn or cross the street, do so at will. However, for people who don’t run too often, knowing where you’re going and how far you have left is important. Before you go on your run, discuss with your partner the path & distance you’ll take. This will help both of you know what to expect.

3. Review your rate. Another thing your partner will want to know is how long you’ll be running. Not everyone enjoys running so knowing the time involved helps them embrace the task. It will also help you temper your expectations. When you run with a slower partner, it’s not a good time to add 20 minutes to your run.

4. Stop showing off. Since you’ll be running slower than normal you’ll have lots of extra energy. Don’t make this obvious to your partner by trying new tricks or joggling circles around them. It will just make them feel bad for holding you back. Instead, take time to focus on your form. Are you swinging your arms properly? Is the timing of your juggling right?

5. Adjusting your joggling. Slower running means joggling adjustment. Basically, you’ll have to throw the bean bags higher to sync up with your slower leg pace. It’s subtle but a little tricky if you haven’t done it before.

6. Be aware of your partner. You’ll likely get ahead of your partner at some point. This is ok as some people like to have someone to follow. But look back to see how they’re doing. If they are struggling slow down. If they want to stop and walk, stop. And if you happen to drop a bean bag make sure they don’t run into you. I don’t wear a “Caution: Joggler Ahead” t-shirt for nothing.

Joggling with a partner can make running more fun and much less lonely. It can even help improve your running by giving you some recovery time. But follow the training tips to keep it enjoyable for both of you.

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