Ode to Training Partners

“Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife and the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
…Jesse Owens


All of my training for the AJC Peachtree Road Race (and the other July events on my racing calendar) has been done alone. That’s fine for a few outings a week – I’m used to exercising 3/4 of the time on my own. But I’ve come to rely on my weekly training session with my loyal training partner.


Training partners in crime in Huntsville, AL.

Ever since we met as teammates on UGA’s rowing team, we have bonded through grueling and easy-going exercise sessions, as well as the highs and lows of competition. Since graduating college we have consistently met and trained together for races and lean on each other for a great deal of support in our athletic pursuits.

While enjoying many adventures during the first month of her teacher-earned summer vacation, my training partner has been sorely missed here in Atlanta. In short, I’m going through withdrawal. But after weeks of absence, my friend Naomi returns to me! And not a day too soon.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re both strong by ourselves, participating in many events independent of each other. Yet as we continue to train together I understand that our athletic “whole” is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. As Runners World’s Kristin Armstrong has said, “I am a good me because I am a runner.” But I am a better me because I run with Naomi.

I’m not sure how many of you are lucky enough to have a Naomi.

They are the ones that, like your running, become an extension of yourself… an extension of your abilities. A source of equal parts strength, inspiration and joy.

They run the same pace, yet can still push you just as you push them. They make 3 hour training runs go by in a flash with entertaining stories. But some days, they don’t have to talk at all… just their presence makes the time pleasantly go by.

50k creek

Water crossing at a Sweetwater Creek State Park race.

They have courage when you are lacking, strength when you are weak, and fortitude to continue when you feel enough is enough.

They don’t laugh at you when you make ridiculous race suggestions. They just joyfully join in.

They have humility enough to train beside you day by day, yet push you ahead of themselves on race day when you are feeling good, and a PR is in your reach. They sacrifice their own PRs when it means dragging you across a finish line that you emotionally don’t think you have the ability to reach.

To your workouts they bring humor, understanding, challenge and snacks.

They are the ones with an indomitable spirit. The ones with hearts the size of the moon.

They are the furthest thing from a dime a dozen, and become true friends.

And best of all… they are great to share post-race celebrations with!

Who brings joy to your running? Who will make their way down Peachtree Street with you this Sunday?

7 comments Add your comment

Gen Neyland

June 30th, 2010
11:53 am

I’m a loner on runs, finding it easier to move at my own pace and schedule. Albeit, when looking for advice regarding roads or trails, I’ll pick somebody’s brain wiser than mine like a crab at an all-u-can-eat fish buffet…btw, the photo of the water crossing looks like great fun. After the 2010 PRR, I’m going to focus and get involved with off-road events. Call it a new beginning for an old asphalt pounder.

Mrs Showers

June 30th, 2010
1:16 pm

Wow, makes me wonder (and even long) if I’d ever be on the same schedule as a training buddy. My husband serves at the encourager of my hard fought runs and he’s even proud of those runs that come effortlessly. We never run “together” but sometimes run at the same park, often arriving together. Almost every run we compare stats afterwards. We both understand that we have our own agenda’s in mind. He likes concrete and paved runs whereas I enjoy the offbeaten trails more. I enjoy my surrounds whereas he focuses on drowning out everything other than his music. I guess he is sort of my training partner in ways because I always find myself thinking what would he think about my pace right now and it pushes me harder. Inspiration comes in many forms and I think he makes me a better runner. This will be our first PRR and since we got slotted randomly I will start behind him a few groups, but I know that he will be waiting just past the finish line to celebrate with me. Looking forward to it already!

Gen Neyland

June 30th, 2010
3:15 pm

Mrs Showers has tweaked something within I must address. My wife is not a runner. She is a walker and has done the Avon 3 Day. She will again be volunteering the PRR and afterward, pick me up at Ansley Mall then drive us to the Varsity for post race/post volunteering grease. She’s encouraged me along my running ways for 19 years and her support has been greatly appreciated…


July 1st, 2010
7:26 am

My dad – never a runner – started running to keep me motivated when no one else would commit. he is now my Naomi and I can barely keep up these days. Without him I know I wouldn’t run as much or as fast so I am grateful! This is my first PRR and he didn’t register in time so I am running with a friend (I am her motivation).

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July 1st, 2010
6:54 pm

My daughter Christy needed a running partner to train for the PRR. I had never run as a workout before but I was willing to try it. We started in late February, 5am, 24 degrees. Christy had to teach me how to run and I went from 50 yards of running before I had to stop to a full 5k two or three times a week and no pain.(almost no pain) Christy pulled out of me something I didn’t know was there.
I’ve learned from Christy how to enjoy life in a different way. Thank you Christy, we love you.

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