Hey WILDR folks! While most of the time I’m a solo runner or hiker, there are times where I like to have a trail running partner with me.
Whether you're going for a hike or a jog, having other people with you can be really helpful. And not only if something goes wrong! Having a good running partner can enhance the running experience. A lot of times I'll remember something someone said or did even more than I'll remember the trail or the place that we were.
But how do you pick a good trail running partner and have a successful run? I've got four quick tips to help you.
RUNNING PARTNER TIP 1: GO SLOWER ON THE FIRST RUN
Make sure that your first outing with a new trail partner or beginner trail runner is on the slower or easier side.
You don’t want to be taking someone that you’ve never been out with before on the largest day of the year. Instead, dip your toe a little bit. See if their reasons for being out there are similar to yours. And, if their style of hiking or jogging is similar to yours and go from there.
Going out for a very, very slow chit chat jog is how I’ve gotten to know most of the people that I trust to go out with on big days.
I find that getting to know people in those low consequence situations, means more success when you’re picking someone to be out there for your bigger or harder days.
TIP 2: DON’T LEAVE THE NEW PERSON BEHIND!
When you’re with a group or a new partner, do not leave that person behind, especially on your first time out with them!
Nothing feels worse than being at the back of a group of hikers or runners. In this situation, you’re effectively alone which can be dangerous for someone new.
You guys went out there together, you need to stay together. A group splitting up can often lead to more problems than if it stays together.
TIP 3: OVER COMMUNICATE
My third tip is to communicate way more than you think you should.
When you’re going out with new partners, you may not know them yet or know their signals. There are folks that I go trail running or hiking with that I can tell by looking at them if they need sugar, a jacket, to sit down, or they want to go faster.
But at first, it’s really easy to misinterpret those signals, and that can lead to a lot of confusion and also to not having a fun day out.
This starts at the trailhead.
Touch base and figure out how everyone’s energy is for that day.
Does anyone have to be back at a certain time?
What is your turnaround time?
Who has communication devices?
Who has first aid stuff?
And, what are people’s general goals and expectations for the day?
This doesn’t have to be a sit down meeting, but casually talk about it with everyone before you start out that day. That’s going to lead to a lot less confusion once you’re actually out on the trail.
RUNNING PARTNER TIP 4: ASSIGN A DAY LEADER
My last tip is whether your group is just the two of you or it’s a large group, assign a group lead.
Typically, this group leader is someone who knows the area the best. They have the most experience on that trail or they know exactly where the trail is. Oftentimes it’s the person who reaches out first and plans the trip, but not always.
Picking one person as your group lead for the day can really help make the process of decision making more structured. This is really helpful when you’re in backcountry environments.
WHO I PICK AS TRAIL RUNNING PARTNERS
When it comes to trail partners, I like to pick people who have very good taste in snacks and who are up for the same thing for me that day. Whether it’s a push hard kind of day or a more casual “take in all your surroundings” kind of day.
Going out with others makes for amazing days. I hope you find some phenomenal trail running partners and you enjoy partnering up!
Have a WILDR Day!