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Get Better Through Running Accountability

Focusing on your running accountability will make you a better runner without taking a step.  Finding a running buddy is an easy way to boost this.  This morning, my running buddy didn’t show up for the run. Did it matter? Nope, not one bit. In fact, it might have helped.  Here is it how it went down:

Me: Hey Jen, you going to the gym in the morning?
Jen: Of course.
Me: Okay, I’ll see you at 6:30 am?
Jen: How about 7:00 am?
Me: Done.

When my alarm went off this morning, I rolled over and thought should I get out of bed? My brain remembered that Jen would be waiting.  ‘Okay, I’ll get moving. I’ll be happier for it later, and I don’t want to no-show on Jen on the first day.’

I arrived early at 6:50 am. No Jen, but that’s okay. I had 10+ miles of treadmill running ahead of me, and I wanted to get started. At 7:00 am, no Jen. 7:15 am, um, where’s Jen?

By 7:30 am, I begin to think my legs are getting tired. I should stop, I’ve already run more than Jen. Wait, what if she comes in to run five minutes after I leave? She’ll think that I didn’t make it in. Okay, I need to keep myself moving. 7:45 am. Yeah, Jen is not coming. 8:29. I finish my 10.31 mile run in 1 hour, 39 minutes, 4 seconds. Success

What Part of Running Accountability Mattered?

Here is the interesting question — did I need Jen to actually show up? Was the possibility that she would show up the important part?

I prefer running buddies to improve my running accountability.  When training for any sort of race, it’s better to do it with someone. Accountability to someone other than yourself is a great motivator. We don’t like letting people down. That’s why Weight Watchers has group sessions.  Charity groups train in teams (ex: Team in Training). A group depends on you. The best race times I ever had also coincided with my best running buddies.

Accountability can also be financially induced. On Stickk, individuals place wagers that they will met a particular goal, such as going to the gym every day for a month. If they fail to achieve this, then the staked money goes to a friend or an organization they loathe. It can’t be an organization you like, because then it would be easy to justify not sticking with something (‘it’s okay, the Boys and Girls Club needs the money anyway’).  I had a running bet with a work colleague that if one of us didn’t show to the gym in the morning, you bought lunch that day. Over six months, we each had to buy exactly one lunch. Not surprisingly, we were both in much better shape by the end of the six months.

Why Accountability Matters

There was a recent op-ed talking about how we are in a golden-age of bailing on people. Are you surprised? We are constantly distracted by phones and over commit ourselves.  This inevitably leads to us not doing things that we thought we would.

Finding time to run and exercise is not any different than any other task. Accountability is much about prioritization. We only do the things that we want to get done. By adding accountability to someone or something other than yourself, you are moving running up that list of priorities. Increasing your accountability to others is way to force something to be a priority. Instead of saying, “I wish I could run a marathon.” You need to say, “How can make sure I run a marathon.” A good training plan and the right amount of accountability will go a long way.

Thank Your Running Accountability Buddy

When I got home, I emailed Jen.  I gently teased her for not showing. Then, I thanked her.  She was the reason I not only started my run that day on time, but I also did the full run.  I ran in the afternoon, and she had done her run.  She wanted to be able to say she finally did it.  Accountability motivates us to get it done.

Next week, we’ll try this again.  I will show up again. I think Jen will too.

Photo by Curtis MacNewton on Unsplash

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