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Trail Tips

4 Tips for Training with Someone Faster Than You

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Get a great speed workout without burning out

The author running with her training partner, Sage Canaday

My main training partner is fast, 2:16 marathoner fast. While training with someone faster can be downright intimidating and can lead to burnout, it can also be a great way to improve your own speed.

Even though I will never be able to keep up with my training partner, I still look forward to every run with him. On the other hand, I have run with other people who are faster than me and ended up being completely miserable. As a result, I have some tips on how to keep runs positive when training with someone faster.

Don’t Worry
Your faster training partner most likely knows that he or she is faster than you. That means they are running with you because they want your company!  (Well, they could be trying to boost their own ego but, if that’s the case, you probably shouldn’t be running with them.) Don’t stress out about having to run uncomfortably fast to impress your partner, or worry about slowing them down. Your training partner doesn’t worry about that and neither should you.

Take the Lead
Some of my least favorite training runs have been when I let someone faster than me lead the whole run while I struggled to keep up. All I wanted was an enjoyable run but what I got instead was a racing heart and an unhappy mind. My pride told me not to say anything, so for miles I all I could think of was finishing the run instead of enjoying the moment. All of this can be avoided simply by being direct and saying to your partner, “Hey, I know you’re faster than me, so can I lead?” It will give your partner a self-esteem boost and help the two of you have an honest running relationship. Another added benefit is that most people feel better when they are in front; leading might actually help you run a little faster. If you feel bad about always leading, after your partner gets used to the pace you want to go, offer him or her the lead. If the pace is too fast, just say so.

Use, Don’t Abuse
Go ahead and use your partner for your own benefit. They won’t mind; it’s another compliment! Since my training partner is so much faster than me, my tempo pace is pretty easy for him. This makes it ideal for him to pace me through a workout on a day he doesn’t want to run hard. When asking your training partner to pace you, make sure you ask in a polite way, don’t overdo it and remember to say thanks! Maybe even buy them a coffee or beer after.

Be Honest
People can get pretty emotional about running, so like any good relationship, you need to be open and honest with your training partner. For instance, if you’re running side by side and your partner starts “half-stepping” you, speak up. Nobody likes “half-stepping” and your training partner probably doesn’t even realize he or she is doing it. Don’t let something small like that lead to pent-up anger. Also, if you’re not feeling great, whether from a cold or a long run before, let you partner know that, too. Your partner will be more understanding, and you will feel better knowing that you said something.

Sandi is an ultrarunner, artist and writer currently living in the small town of Nederland, CO. To follow Sandi’s adventures check out her blog at

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