Do you struggle to stay motivated while running? Here, Stylist’s Lauren Geall explains why running with a friend could be the secret to success.

I’ve never been particularly interested in the idea of a ‘running buddy’. Not only am I usually very out of breath when I run, but I also enjoy using the time when I’m running to sort through my thoughts or listen to a podcast I’ve been meaning to get round to.

As a result, I’ve always seen running as a solitary activity – a hobby I turn to when I need to get some headspace. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone running *with* someone.

But after this weekend, I’m a convert. Having signed up for the Asics London 10K on a (very last-minute) whim, I went into the race planning to walk at least three of the 10 kilometres – especially considering how hot it was in central London. But despite my modest predictions, things went much better than expected – largely thanks to the fact I ran the whole way with my friend Alex. 

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On top of giving me someone to talk to throughout the race, having a friend with me helped me to stay motivated for much longer than I would have been had I been running on my own.

I’ve always struggled with maintaining a positive mental attitude when running for longer distances, but having a friend to encourage me made doing that a lot easier. 

For example, when I told Alex I was going to stop and walk at 5k, she urged me to keep going. And when I was finding it hard towards the end of the race, her positive attitude and company pushed me to try for a sprint finish. 

“When I told Alex I was going to stop and walk at 5k, she urged me to keep going.”

Having someone with me also made the whole experience more enjoyable, too. While the idea of running 10k in the blistering heat doesn’t exactly sound like fun, we had a great time singing along to the songs being blasted from the loud speakers and pointing out landmarks on our way round the course. 

In turn, this helped to keep my energy levels up even towards the end of the hour-long slog – another aspect of running I typically struggle with.

There’s science to back up my experience, too. Research into the benefits of working out with friends has shown that doing so can lead to increased motivation and a greater sense of stress relief after the activity. It can also be a great way to distract yourself from pain and keep yourself accountable; after all, who wants to give up when you know someone is watching you? 

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While I’m not going to give up on solo running anytime soon, I’m definitely going to try and slot in a few more runs with friends – especially when I want to attempt a new distance or speed. 

Alongside physical fitness and technique, exercise is a lot about mental attitude – and with a friend by your side, it’s a lot easier to stay positive and keep going.  

Images: Lauren Geall

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