Training buddies are very important

Some runners keep up with their training schedule. Others are in a race and don’t even get to it at the start. why is that? “The support of your training buddies is very important. Sociologist Rob Franken has discovered that even if you walk because you really love him.

Exercising is healthy, but the temptation is great to lie on the couch in the evening. This is why at Radboud University they look for the factors that motivate you to exercise.

New arrivals on Zevenheuvelenloop

More than 800 runners on their way to taking part in the Zevenheuvelenloop for the first time received three polls from Rob Franken and his teammates. At different times they answered questions about their athletic behaviour. Like how often they trained, how motivated they were and what their athletic grid looked like. By this sports network, we mean the people you exercise with. How close are you to that? What is the level of your comrades? How often do they walk? Do you go to the gym or an association? Are you using Strava? For example, we followed how their training behavior and network evolved over a period of time. through site and Zevenheuvelenloop We looked at who showed up last at the start of the race,” says Rob Franken.

More training with more friends

One in five test subjects stayed home the day of the Nijmegen race. We discovered that participants who always trained alone had a higher chance of not showing up at the start. Participants with a smaller network of training partners also received less training, on average. If the number of your sports companions decreases, for example because you have moved house, then the number of training sessions per week decreases.

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People who were members of a club a month before the race or who had many athletic buddies actually participated more. We didn’t notice a difference between running with your neighbor or working out at the athletics club. The point is, your gym companion is an important training partner for you.

You might expect that beginners or people who exercise just for the sake of socializing need their training buddies the most. And this seasoned soloist can do without friends. Turns out this didn’t make a difference, all of the participants benefited from the gym buddies. It also didn’t make a difference whether they went 7 or 15 kilometers.

Why are the gym buddies so excited?

We found two prominent arguments in the literature. First, your sports network is an important source of support. You will get encouragement, tips, maybe a helpful schedule and of course nice company. Second, the activities of your running buddies provide a frame of reference: you don’t want to fall behind your friends, which is why you keep training. The chance to appear was mainly related to the support of close sports friends: the more supportive companions you have, the more likely you are to succeed.

It seems more important for frequency training to have friends with whom you can compare yourself. If you have friends who are hardcore joggers, chances are your runs should go up a notch. Runners who are slightly better than you are probably the best sports partners. Although it wasn’t examined in this study, I can imagine it would be counterproductive if you all had training partners who were exercising at a level you couldn’t reach.

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It may also help to digitally follow your training buddies and provide them with ‘likes’, ‘kudos’ and other compliments and feedback. We’ll amplify this in another study Running clubs on Strava which is an extension of a real relationship. We can already see that receiving praise from your fellow clubmates makes you walk more.

We feel important in sports

Sports that you can do individually, such as fitness, cycling and running, are becoming increasingly popular. Traditional structures in which people play sports, such as associations, are actually becoming less popular. Our research It shows that “feeling us” is still important to persistence in sports. Many programs aimed at promoting an active lifestyle target the individual and have a short-term effect. Based on our study, I think a more group-oriented approach could work better in the long run, such as encouraging people to join a sports club where they can build a network, says Rob Franken.


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