Some running buddies are made, not born. Five ways to do it.

We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of training with a running partner, but sometimes it’s tricky to find someone who is ready, willing, and able to be your go-to running buddy.  And often, there are cases when you’ve got just the right person – great attitude, good rapport, easy to get along with — except for one nagging little problem: they don’t run.

Well let’s get them started!  Here are some tips on turning your everyday buddy into a running buddy.

Start slow.  Unless you’re just getting started yourself, there’s a good chance that you’re starting out fitter and more comfortable with running than your non-running friend.  This isn’t the time to be a show-off.  Start out with some low-pressure jogs, focusing on things like enjoying the fresh air or taking in some scenery.  This isn’t a competition (yet, anyway).

Start a program.  Even if you’re a regular runner and you aren’t completing a defined training plan at the moment, it can still do a world of good for your partner to be starting with something a little more regimented.  So what if you’ve already graduated from Ease into 5K…you can still go through the workouts with your running buddy on days that you’re together.  If you’re looking for an inexpensive friendly gesture to get them moving, go ahead and buy the app for them.

Sign up for a race together.   A race can be great motivation for your buddy.  Choose something fun and close by, just like you might have when you first started out.  Never raced before?  Then it’s a great opportunity to tell your potential buddy that you’re looking for a little support to get you to that next level.

Make it work with his or her schedule.  “I just don’t have time” is probably the most common reason you hear for people who want to run regularly, but just haven’t been able to make it happen.  Make sure you’re sensitive to that issue as you’re planning your runs, taking into account your buddy’s work, family, and other obligations.  Morning runs are a great way to avoid the usual conflicts.  Even if neither of you are typically up and at ‘em that early, having a partner waiting for you is just about the best motivation you can have for getting out of bed and lacing up.

Incentivize.  Okay, you can’t just bribe your running buddy every time you want to go run, but there are some small gestures you can make to help motivate.  Start off with a Sunday run and a promise of a well-deserved breakfast out afterwards.  Or agree that after doing scheduled workouts for a week you’ll celebrate with dinner, or a movie, or whatever.  Little things like that can go a long way, and they help emphasize the camaraderie and fun at the center of most successful running relationships.  It doesn’t have to be your treat, just a mutual commitment to go out and do something together.

How about you?  Have you ever successfully coaxed a friend or family member off the couch and out for a run?  Tell us about it in the comments!

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