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Runners talk. Runners who run more than just a couple of miles together (try 9!) talk A LOT.

That means that you end up sharing a significant amount of information with each other on a typical one- or two-hour-long run.

No topic seems to be untouchable. And, yes, guys you’re just as chatty as us chicas.

Kids, spouses, jobs. The Walking Dead plot twists, latest books read, who might be killed next on Game of Thrones. They’re all fair game.

The stories flow, no matter who we’re running with. It could be because we’re all delirious from the heat, exhaustion and dehydration. Or it could be that the act of running in and of itself breaks down some barriers.

I’ve run with several ultra marathoners (a couple of them have run 50Ks on purpose). I’ve run with close friends. And I’ve been paired up with people I’ve never met until we decided on-the-spot to go knock out a few miles.

Each person has opened up to me — and I to them. The conversations inevitably start with the run itself, progress into running experiences (and injuries, of course) and eventually delve into family and home or work life.

Seldom is advice sought, or given. Even so, the conversation feels like a cathartic experience. The run allowing us to pour our worries on the road and to leave them there when our GPS watches and smart phones tell us we can go home now.

Regardless of the topic, I’m always left feeling like what we shared — both the run itself and what we talked about — is, maybe not sacred, but certainly worthy of respect. And of keeping close to the vest. To keep to oneself.

I don’t know that all runners honor this unwritten rule, but as we shake hands, hug or take a picture after our run, there’s something left unsaid but that hangs in the air with promise. Promise that we both know we were there for each other while we worked out problems. That we were there as we shared our hurt or joy. And that we’ll be there when we’re needed again.

Even if it’s just for a few miles. It certainly feels like a privilege whether it’s legally binding or not.

Whether you’re a new or, ahem, more-experienced runner, there are few things more important to your success than the right running partner. But what makes a person good running-buddy material?

good running-buddy traitsHere are five traits that will make you a good running buddy:

  1. They listen. Whether you’re having a crappy day or celebrating a recent accomplishment, a good running buddy listens. Just like with any relationship, it’s a good sign when both of you can take turns talking about what’s going on in your life. Bonus points for a running partner who knows when to be quiet and when to provide solutions or feedback. Extra bonus points for knowing that what’s said on the run stays on the pavement.
  2. They share. I’m not talking about sharing running gear, but about sharing their experience. Some of my most-memorable runs were those times when a very-experienced runner shared some nuggets about training that helped me overcome an issue or that helped me prepare for a challenge. Bonus points for a buddy who also brings extra fuel to share on long runs.
  3. They pace. Some of my favorite running partners can hit a 12-minute-per-mile pace for 13.1 miles without even looking at their watch. I call a couple of them my personal pacers. Some are particularly good at slowing us down when we get to talking and speed up too much on long-run day and risk burning out too early. Bonus points for being a buddy who knows when to help you adjust your pace, whether that’s slowing down or doing some speed work.
  4. They’re consistent. As I’ve said before, I have the best running friends. These particular running friends will get up to run at 5:15 a.m. on a regular basis to help each other stick with our training plans. And since consistency is one of the most important aspects of my training, I appreciate that my running buddies support my running goals. Bonus points for running partners who run with you in inclement weather.
  5. They’re encouraging. The best running partners are the most supportive, whether they’re there in person or not. Some of my favorite running buddies spend inordinate amounts of time chatting with me online, answering questions, helping me anticipate potential problems and find solutions. Bonus points for not killing me in the process (even though I know you want to).

I’m not following the day’s theme for Tuesdays on the Run, the weekly link-up with hosts runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice, but I am linking up. Do go check out their posts and make sure to comment below.

What makes for the best running buddies? Are you fortunate enough to have some in your life? Feel free to share your blog post if you’ve written about this topic. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)