Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.
The question: I have started running with a friend. I am really happy she asked me to run with her because it makes me run, but my friend is faster than I am and I feel guilty holding her up.
The answer: Most of my favourite running memories happened with friends. So, my biggest piece of advice is that if you found a buddy, don't talk yourself out of running with her because you feel guilty.
Your friend is an adult. Don't second guess her invitation. Just enjoy the run. That being said, when she wants to do a faster run on her own, don't take it personally. Respect that decision as well.
From personal experience, I know that running with a friend, whether you are the faster or slower buddy, can be an awesome experience. I have experienced both. My personal-best half-marathon time is because a friend (who is a faster runner) paced me. I will be eternally grateful to him. In other races I have paced slower friends so that they could get a personal best. Those were equally rewarding experiences. It is always wonderful to see someone succeed.
In training runs, I like running with a slower friend during a recovery run. They are so important, but I find it hard to make myself do them. Relaxing is not one of my strong suits. I am always grateful to my buddy for helping me slow down and smell the roses.
The main takeaway is stop feeling guilty. Your friend most likely enjoys running with you because it allows her to be social, recover and enjoy the process of running, not just the final result! Plus, when it comes to exercises, running included, guilt is counterproductive. Feelings of guilt (for example, from skipping a workout) often just make us embrace an unhealthy habit like eating junk food. In your case, feeling guilty has made you contemplate not embarking on a great fitness journey with a friend.
Trainer's tip: Run with your friend, but don't abandon solo runs altogether. Running solo allows you to run at your own pace (so you don't over-train), and will teach you how to pace and motivate yourself. Plus, I really enjoy solo runs because they allow me time to reflect.