Forget GPS watches, foam rollers and energy gels, a running buddy is probably one of the most underestimated training tools out there.

When the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, having somebody to be accountable to and share the miles with can make a huge difference, not only to your motivation but also your performance. With that in mind, here are ten things to look for in a running partner:

1. They’re supportive, not just competitive

The best training partnerships are mutually beneficial and a good training buddy will genuinely look to support you rather than to simply get a kick from beating you on every run. Of course it can be healthy to have a friendly rivalry between training partners and this can indeed raise your level of performance, however you must both learn when to temper that competitive instinct!

2. They’re non-judgemental

It’s always good to find yourself a training partner who doesn’t take offence to the odd and at times, socially unacceptable habits that runners have, such as sudden toilet stops and firing spit balls and snot rockets!

3. They’ve got good chat!

There are times, particularly during longer runs when the only way to stay sane is to have a good old chin wag. For this reason it’s really important to find a running partner with good chat. I’ve had all sorts of chats with one of my good training partners, ranging from some philosophical debates to politics, to sport to just general silliness and it undoubtedly helps the miles to tick by faster.

4. They’re reliable

It’s essential to find a running partner who is dependable and will turn up on time, as arranged and no matter what the session and the weather. Of course, things happen and sometimes plans have to change at the last minute but nobody likes somebody who is ‘washing their hair’ every time that the weather is miserable !

5. They’re slightly faster than you

For a running partnership to work, you of course need to be of a similar speed. However, the optimal running partner should be just slightly faster than you. Having somebody to chase or somebody who keeps the pace ‘honest’ will ultimately help to elevate your performance.

6. They are willing to be flexible

As with any successful relationship, there has to be a degree of ‘give and take’ and compromise. A good running buddy will be flexible to adapt training locations and sessions if necessary.

7. Your training times are compatible

If you are going to run with a partner then you need to ensure that your training times are actually compatible with each other’s work and family commitments. Can you establish a common time to meet and train on a regular basis?

8. They are a positive influence

A good training buddy should be a positive influence on your running. A training partner can be a fantastic source of encouragement and peer advice. Try to avoid those runners who tend to be negative and love to moan as you will quickly find that this becomes draining.

9. They are honest

The best policy is always to be honest and transparent when it comes to training with others. A top running partner will make their goals clear, whether that’s for a specific run or session or indeed the entire season. This ensures that you both understand the objective of the training and where you are heading. They also won’t be afraid to admit when they’re struggling and will let you crack on if need be so that your splits don’t suddenly take a spectacular nose dive.

10. They get to know you well

The best training buddies will be attentive and after sharing many miles with you can often pick up subtle, non-verbal cues that you may be having a tough day. Having somebody who knows you well and whether you respond to tough love or gentle encouragement can be crucial in getting you through those runs where your body and mind aren’t co-operating.