Pregnant with her fourth baby – six months after the birth of her third – Jamie Spranget promised herself she’d do something for herself after the birth of No. 4.
She chose training for a half-marathon, which she’ll run this month – two weeks before her baby’s first birthday. Never athletic before she started training, Spranget said, she wouldn’t have made it this far without an organized group of runners who connect both online and on the pavement, offering encouragement and noting one another’s progress and hurdles.
Along with companionship over the miles, the women serve as “accountability partners” – keeping one another focused on fitness goals even as life threatens to intercede. It’s another way to remain motivated to work out over the long term.
“To have somebody supportive to say, ‘You know what? You need to get out of the house. You need to go (run)’ – it’s really important,” said Spranget, 29, of Hayden, Idaho. “It helps make your goals more attainable.”
For some people, a paid personal trainer fills that role.
But friends or acquaintances can serve as partners, too. They’re people with whom to share your progress, but they’re also people who’ll hold you to your goals.
It’s not your partner’s job to drag you off the couch or give you a hard time, said Kristin Ludwig, 38, of Hayden, who helped start up the North Idaho women’s running group. But it is her job to encourage you or “redirect your focus” when you’re listing your reasons to skip workouts or call it quits.
Your partner might be someone who exercises alongside you – think lunch-break walking buddy – or he might be a friend who lives states away.
Some people find their accountability partners at home, said Angela Purdy, a personal trainer in Spokane. Family members – even pets – who expect to exercise with you regularly will help get you out the door when you need the nudge.
The group of women in North Idaho report their progress and challenges in a closed Facebook group, which they also use to arrange meet-ups to run. The women have varying goals. Some are lifelong runners, and some are new to the sport.
Whatever your goal, said running group member Sandra Nickel, 39, of Hayden: “Trying to achieve it together is much better than trying to accomplish it alone.”