Why You Should Have a Running Partner or Group

Kirsty McCullough
Kirsty McCullough

Whatever your running goals, you may find it easier to run with or without a partner. There are many reasons why we choose to run alone, whether that’s to stick at our own pace or to indulge in some time to ourselves. For many people, running is a form of mindfulness that works for them.

But you could be missing a trick. We commissioned a survey of keen runners to discover that over two thirds of Brits are running alone. But 87% of those who run with a friend  believe their partner helps with motivation and overall performance. 

Why Running With a Partner Has its Benefits

You could be training for a marathon, or taking casual runs to keep up your fitness, whatever your goal there will certainly be others who share them with you. 

In 2016, researchers at the University of Aberdeen found that working out with a companion increased the amount of exercise people took. This increased even more when the new partner was emotionally supportive. The study also stated that the support from a partner was more important than the running. 

Not only are you more likely to get outside and take that run if out with a friend, but there are many more benefits:

  1. You may work harder due to being around someone else working hard
  2. You can motivate each other
  3. You’ll most likely be safer as you’re not alone
  4. You can analyse each other’s running forms to help improve performance
  5. The social aspect of a running partner may help to improve mental wellbeing

David Jones, Head of Psychology & Personal Development at Saracens Rugby Club, understands the importance of getting social and staying fit, says: “Studies have shown that running with a partner or in a group can increase consistency and intensity of training. Authors suggest this could be because, at heart, we are deeply social creatures so people get enjoyment from the social aspect of group exercise. 

“Having a running partner can help us to keep commitments we have made to others as well as holding ourselves accountable to our own fitness goals. For this reason it’s no surprise to see that those who run in pairs often feel more motivated.” 

How Brits Feel About Running With a Partner

Generational and gender attitudes of runners

The survey also found that Brits aged 25-34 are the most sociable, with 41% of them choosing to run with a partner, whereas only 17% of 55-64’s and 13% of over 65s have a running partner. 

Men and women are both choosing to run with a partner, as 31% of women and 27% of men are currently choosing to run with someone else alongside them.

The most social cities for runners

London was found to be the most social running city, with 39% of respondents from London saying they run with a partner. It seems Londoners are reaping the benefits of running with a partner or as a group with over 360 5k runs and 70 junior park runs in the city, which welcome around 75,000 people a week.

Similarly, Liverpool and Manchester prefer running with a partner, with around a third of people in each city saying they run with someone else.

As for cities that prefer to run alone, 100% of runners surveyed in Belfast said they run alone, with 80% of Norwich, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Newcastle runners also choosing to train on their own. 

Rachael Rutherford, triathlete and fourfive ambassador says: “Running with a partner provides motivation to get out as well as  enjoyment and distraction whilst running. In a time when we are all so busy, it’s also a great way to catch up with friends, while also getting active.

“I don’t currently regularly run with anyone but I have done in the past. I found it helpful to keep the pace easy and at conversation pace, something I find quite hard when running alone. It’s also great when doing intervals as it adds an element of competition.

“I think having a number of different running partners is a good thing. Having someone who tends to run slower than you is great for your easy runs, and having someone faster than you is great for those days when you want to push yourself harder!”

The UK’s dream running partner

Many of us will be familiar with the popular running app, NHS Couch to 5k, which allows you to choose your ‘coach’ from a list of celebrities including comedians Sarah Millican and Sanjeev Kohli, presenter Jo Whiley.

In our survey, we also asked respondents who their dream celebrity running partner would be, with Tom Cruise coming out on top. Known for doing his own stunts and his top-rated action films, it’s no surprise that people would feel more motivated to run alongside Tom.

The UK’s Top Five Celebrity Running Partners

  1. Tom Cruise
  2. David Beckham
  3. Rihanna
  4. Will Smith
  5. Kim Kardashian

Whether running is their passion or not, finding someone you can vibe with and train together will help you achieve your running goals. Though, we’re not sure how likely it is you’ll be running alongside Kim Kardashian or David Beckham anytime soon.

The survey results also showed men’s and women’s dream running partners, with women more likely to choose a male celebrity, and men more likely to choose a female. UK women chose Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Ed Sheeran as their top three dream running partners, and UK men chose David Beckham, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian.

We asked fourfive ambassadors about their dream running partners ahead of marathon season. SAS: Who Dares Wins host Jason Fox said: “My dream running partner would be Johnny Vegas, he’d make me feel really fast.”

British Olympic track and Field Athlete Ojie Edoburun, recently earned a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and has an impressive running career behind him, said his dream running partner would be Cristian Ronaldo: “He seems very focused and very determined and I think there are a lot of key skills that could rub off on me.”

What to Look For When Finding a Running Partner

When choosing a running partner it’s important to consider a range of factors. Choosing the wrong partner could jeopardise your goals, performance and motivation. 

Our top tips for finding the perfect running partner:

  1. Goals

Choosing someone with the same or similar running goals as you means that you can adapt and work together to help achieve them.

  1. Pace

Be honest with your potential partner about the pace at which you like to run, if neither of you is willing to change your pace, then the relationship won’t work.

  1. Personal strengths 

What strengths does your potential partner have that you could benefit from? They may be great at something you’re looking to better.

  1. Compatibility

This is key! Does your lifestyle fit theirs? Do you want to run at the same time of day? Do your schedules mean you can both commit to a routine? These are all important questions to ask your potential exercise partner.

  1. Personality

As we know, the emotional support you receive from your running partner can better impact your performance because of motivation. So, with that in mind it’s important to find someone who can support you in this way. 

If no one in your life currently screams running partner potential, then don’t worry,there are plenty of sites and apps that will help you to find a running mate. r. You can try out Facebook groups, head to your local park run or online websites like Jogging Buddy and Buddy Up, if these don’t appeal to you then why don’t you ask around and see if a friend of a friend is a keen runner, or someone in your office is up for the challenge too.

If you’re prepping for a big run or marathon, or just casually running, try out hydration tablets, perfect for boosting your electrolytes and keeping your body hydrating during and after exercise. For recovery, why not try our muscle balms and joint gels? Ideal for helping joint pain and muscle soreness after exercise.

Data Methodology

fourfive conducted a survey of 1000 regular runners from the UK, the survey was completed on the 8th August 2022.

To determine a list of celebrities for the survey, data was collected using YouGov’s most popular people, whilst excluding controversial figures.