Planning a run with a friend can easily supply motivation. On one hand, you've made an agreement to meet your friend at a particular time and accomplish a certain number of miles. That gets you out the door at minimum. Once you are out there, having someone next to you can help in several ways:
Running with Someone Faster
Pro: This can supply some extra energy to try and keep up. It can kick your training into a second gear and help you get stronger.
Con: Kind of defeats the purpose of running "together" if they leave you in the dust and can be deflating.
Advice: Find someone who is slightly faster than you, but won't get too far ahead. Someone .5 to 1 min. faster would be great because they can stay within eye sight.
Pro: Perfect. You can both run comfortably and get in the miles together as originally intended. If you want to pick up the pace (or slow it down) you can do so with the same base speed.
Con: Not very many, but we need at least one for the purpose of the blog. It can be "stale." With neither of you "pulling" or being "picked up" (in terms of pace) you can become too comfortable and hinder an opportunity to improve your fitness.
Advice: Break up the miles (or time) to adjust your speed. If you both run a 10 min. pace, agree before you start to squeeze in a couple 9.5s to mix things up then ease back into you normal pace to recover.
Pro: You are getting in the miles you would like and can be great for recovery runs. Plus you may have the opportunity to encourage a faster pace and be a motivator.
Con: You agreed to run with a friend and pushing their pace, can be annoying. Don't over-step your invitation. Running at a slower pace might not be the best for you to get in a strong workout, but the companionship can make up for it.
Advice: If you want to increase the pace, suggest picking up the pace for short segments: "to the end of the block" or "for the next 3 minutes." Don't be discouraging if they are more comfortable at a slower pace. Take the opportunity to support them and help be a motivator to finish the distance.
It can be tricky running with others, but if you do it right, it can be amazing. Having a group with multiple paces can be ideal. If you have the energy, run with the faster group. If you feel like running at a comfortable pace, do so. Or if you need a recovery day or see someone who needs a "pick me up" take advantage and help out a friend through what could be a tough run. On any training run longer than 10 miles, I try to make sure I am running with someone else. It's great conversation, great company and depending on if you want to run fast, comfortable, or with ease... it's the perfect situation.
Feel free to leave a comment on how you enjoy your training runs. Share your insight with others about an experience you've had.