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Your Guide to Training and Running a Race with Your BFF

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You and your friend just signed up to run a race together, now what? You need to start making a game plan ASAP. Running a race together is a bit more complicated than deciding what time to meet at the start line and coordinating race day outfits. To ensure you make it to the finish line with a smile on your face we're giving you a step-by-step guide on how to train and run a race with your BFF. (Get exciting, because there are some amazing benefits to running with a friend.)

1. Set Clear Goals

You need to set expectations from the beginning, so be clear about each of your goals. Running a race together can be tricky if you are aiming for a specific time goal, says Lindsey Hein, certified run coach, and podcast host. "Even if you have the same abilities and fitness level, you might not feel the same on race day." If one person is faster than the other person, the faster runner could help pace the other person to set a new PR, explains Hein. However, if you signed up to run it together, the best race-day goal is to just have fun!

2. Choose a Training Plan

Just because you're running the race together doesn't mean you need to follow the exact same training plan, advises Hein. Hiring a running coach to write out a specific training schedule tailored to each runner is ideal, explains Marianna Biribin, certified run coach, trainer, and group fitness instructor. If that isn't in your budget, Biribin suggests looking online for training plans based on your race-day goal time as well as how much time you can realistically spend running each week. You both can coordinate the days you do speed sessions and long runs when your schedules permit, but you don't have to run the same distance every week, suggests Hein. "Not all runners can handle the same mileage." 

3. Put In the Work

Now that you've set a goal and picked a training plan, it's time to get to work! If you're fortunate enough to train together, use these runs to work on pacing and practice navigating the course, suggests Biribin. "During the race, the course may narrow or become crowded preventing you from running side by side, practicing how to navigate this during training will give you less to negotiate on race day." If you cannot coordinate your schedules to run together that's okay too. You can still stay connected through a training app such as Strava, says Hein. "It can help you feel as though you're training together even if you aren't physically logging miles together."

4. Devise a Race Strategy

Biribin says that it's essential that you both show up to the start line with a clear race strategy. "It should include a pacing plan, how you'll handle the crowded parts of the race and how to navigate water stops to avoid losing each other." Use the race congestion in the early miles to keep from going out too fast, she says. "Try not to weave through the crowds," she says. "Stick to a steady pace to prevent getting separated." When making a water stop decide who is going to grab the water first and pick a side of the course to stay on until you find each other again, says Hein. "Wearing the same brightly colored top will also help you spot each other in the crowd."

5. Give Support When It's Needed

If you've made a pact to stay together no matter what, help each other through the rough patches, says Biribin. "You know how to talk each other through things, how to listen and the best ways to help when the other isn't feeling great." If you decided to go for a goal finish time and you're struggling but your friend feels great, push them to go ahead, suggests Hein. "Any good training partner would want to see their friend do the best they possibly can." 

6. Celebrate Together!

Even if you don't end up reaching the finish line at the same time, celebrate your accomplishments. The time you spent training and racing can deepen your friendship and perhaps even challenge you to take on bigger goals. After all, you've got the best sidekick along for the run. (Working out together holds both people accountable, sure, but it's also a lot of fun!)

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