Pardon my French.
I had another workout with my new running partner this morning, and it reminded me of one of the great truths behind running partnership. There are no taboo topics of conversation.
Talking with someone while running is a great way to help add to the cardiovascular benefits of the workout. It builds lung capacity as you learn to use your air more efficiently. In fact, many running programs will describe your effort level by your ability to have a conversation while you run. You're running comfortably if you can talk, but if you can only get out a few words at a time, you've moved up into the 70-80% effort range. At top speed, you can't speak at all.
Naturally, the added benefits of good conversation are that the time passes more quickly and you get a chance to catch up with a friend. In high school, I'd spend huge amounts of time on the phone in order to make sure that I knew every detail of whatever situation I could. Now, Facebook takes care of most of that, and quite frankly, I hate spending time on the phone, and avoid it as much as I can.
So truly, how often do you get to spend time with someone and just talk for extended periods of time? It's not often for me, so now I get to spend 30 minutes to an hour once a week just talking with a friend. And because of the rules of running, you get to talk about anything.
I'm sure there's some medical, biological explanation for it, but running lowers the walls that separate a topic of discussion from a social faux pas. Whether it's the adrenaline, the exhaustion, or just the company you keep, running conversations can go from sickness to injuries to any and all bodily functions. When you're out on the road, nothing is off limits, which makes the whole action of going for a group run that much more personal.
Now, add to this social comfort and pleasure the fact that you're doing something that's good for your health, and there's no reason not to get a friend and hit the trail. This now makes two excellent strategies that I've learned for beginner runners:
1) Sign up for a race. You don't want to waste the money, and knowing that you're training FOR something specific makes every mile matter that much more.
2) Run with a friend. You'll get closer, you'll be healthier, and if someone is waiting for you, you're far less likely to blow off a run.
Plus, who else will talk to you about gas?