More than Teammates: How My Training Partner Became One of My Closest Friends

Sarah and I at dinner during last year's spring break track meet!
Sarah and I at dinner during last year’s spring break track meet!

Running is typically seen as an individual sport. Many people spend years training alone. Even on a team sport like cross country, emphasis is still put on the top 10 to 15 individuals. But just because you may compete alone does not mean that running can’t bring you valuable friendships — and I’m here to tell you about someone I would not have known if I hadn’t begun running: Sarah.

Because I go to such a small school, almost everyone knows everyone. Sarah spent her first two years at our university on the swim team, so I always recognized her as one of the “swimmers” – a very different group than the runners! So when we were finally introduced during the 2012 track season, I didn’t really recognize her as a real member of the team, but at that time, I didn’t recognize myself as one, either.

It was last spring track season that really brought us together.

I had found Sarah’s blog in the fall and we realized we shared many of the same struggles. Not only were we able to do hard track workouts together, but we were able to go on 15 milers and never get sick of one another! It was amazing to have someone who not only understood some of my own personal issues, but someone who I could train with and someone who I could wallow over bad races with, especially our disastrous conference 10Ks this past season. I’ve cried with her after workouts and I’ve worn obnoxious spandex with her. She’s swam next to me while I aquajogged, and anyone who doesn’t judge you while you’re doing an aquajogging workout is probably the best kind of person (not to mention we wear pretty similar bathing suits — she introduced me to Dolfin Uglies, the best suits around).

I think one of the most important aspects to finding a good training partner is finding a good friend as well. You don’t want to be spending hours on end with someone you can’t stand, though I can think of very few times when we’ve been sick of one another. You also don’t want to find someone who is too similar — and yet not too different — from you. Sarah is a true extrovert while I’m a more serious introvert; she’s a chemistry major while I’m a humanities major… though she did convince me to start wearing Mizunos. We also run very similar paces and have very similar goals in mind, like racing half-marathons and marathons after we both graduate this spring. Even though she’s not running on the team this semester due to injury, she still keeps me in the loop with her new running store job and I keep her in the know regarding cross country, and we both work on the school newspaper together.

Sarah and I with some teammates during a long run at the reservoir!

Finding a sole mate (something that Chipotle wrote about back in May!) is amazing. I urge all of you to invite your running buddies out for dinner or coffee if you haven’t already, or throw a get together for your training buddies. I am so very blessed to have such a great friend in the sportย and in life. You’ve got someone on your side when your calves ache or you really need to use the bathroom on a run. You’ve got someone on your side and always ready to lace up her shoes.

Do you have a best friend/training partner in your life? Tell us about her (or him)!


Former collegiate coffee-fueled distance runner who loves track workouts.

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  1. Some of my running buds have become like family over the years! My college teammate became my roommate and we were both in each other’s weddings this past year. Life long friends because we sweat together and pushed ourselves to the limit together! She’s like a sister!

  2. My training partners have become my best friends too. It really is one of the neatest things! I love how running bonds us! So glad you two have one another on the roads, track, course and in life! Makes all the miles so much better!

  3. Running friends are the best! I have so many friends who I might not have become close to but for running and I am so glad for that. Something about sharing the training experience that brings you close. Glad you found each other!

  4. I am so glad we became friends. I feel like we do really complement each other perfectly, both in running and real life. We’re honest when we need to be, and we have fun when we want to. That’s what real “track friends” do. You’re the best and I can’t wait to join you back on the track in just a few months!