10 Rules for Walking Partners

Learn How to Be a Good Walking Partner

Trail Walking and Hiking
Trail Walking and Hiking. Hero Images/Gettty Images

A reader writes that she had been looking for a walking partner for a long time. Now that she has one, she realizes they just aren't compatible. She wonders if there are any rules for being a good walking partner that she should know about before she "fires" her own.

I've walked with many people, some for just a couple of walks, several for over 20 years. The ones worth keeping follow these rules.

10 Rules For Walking Partners

1. Don't Stand Up Your Partner: If you've agreed to a time and place to meet to walk, keep that date except in cases of true emergencies.

Notify your walking partner of any no-shows as far in advance as you can (and agree how to contact each other - text, call, email). If your life is so chaotic that emergencies happen more often than not, you shouldn't schedule anything with a walking partner.

2. Be on Time: If you are always late, it may cut into your walking partner's day or shorten your walking time. If you are late once in awhile, call or text your walking partner before you are actually late to let her know you are still coming and your estimated arrival time.

3. Agree on Speed and Hills: Are you going to walk together and match pace? You will need to see if your walking speed is compatible. You may be good for each other in all other ways, but if your speeds are too different, you won't be able to actually walk together. If your partner hates hills and you love the challenge, discuss this and adjust your routes as needed.

4. Mind Your Conversation Topics: Keep your conversation on the same level as polite dinner conversation. Don't talk religion or politics until you are sure such topics are welcome. Don't unload all of your personal problems onto your walking partner. Don't assume she is happy to share all of the details of your problems with your spouse, money, or medical ills.

5. Share Important, Relevant Medical Information: If you have a chronic condition that might require medical attention while walking, let your walking partner know about it and any drugs you carry to counter it. Asthma, angina, epilepsy, diabetes, and allergic reactions to bee stings might require your walking partner to help you or call for medical help. You don't have to make this a common part of your conversation, but let your partner know up front if these problems might occur and what she should do.

6. Ask Before Bringing a Friend or Dog: Adding a dog adds complexity to walking with somebody else. Ask first. Give your walking partner warning if you are bringing somebody else along, too. This is the same courtesy as if you were showing up for dinner for two with a third person.

7. Agree on Stops: If you need a restroom every hour, let your walking partner know that this will be a recurring stop. If you like to stop at the coffee shop in the middle of the walk, discuss this.

8. Agree on Silent Times or Listening to Tunes: Some walking partners like to listen to music and walk together for safety and to maintain pace, but not for conversation.

Others may want to limit their conversation when they are getting tired or tackling a hill. Discuss this in advance so your partner can bring her own music -- or not be hurt that you aren't talking to her.

9. Limit Phone Calls and Texting: Don't break off your conversation with your walking partner to take non-emergency phone calls or read texts while walking together. Imagine this is a family dinner and inform your usual callers that you won't be available during this time.

10. Don't Whine: If your feet hurt or you're uncomfortable because it is extraordinarily hot or cold outside, it's likely that your walking partner is feeling the same thing. Hearing about it, however, makes the miles go slower.

Quiz: Are You a Bad Walking Partner?

Are you a good walking partner or a bad walking partner? Do you follow the basic rules for walking partners, or would you be better off walking alone?

For each question, add the points in front of your honest answer, then total them at the end.

1. How often do you break your walking date?

0-Never
1-Rarely
2-Often

2. How often are you late for your walking date?

0-Never
1-Rarely
2-Often

3. Do you try to walk the same speed as your partner?

0-Yes, always
1-Always except on tough hills
2- I'm often going faster or slower

4. Do you avoid controversial or overly personal conversation topics?

0-Yes, I keep to pleasant topics
1-Sometimes I just have to vent
2-I love debating and giving my opinion to my walking partner

5. Do you share important medical info with your walking partner?

0-Yes
1-Some things, but not all
2-It's none of their business, they can just call 911

6. Do you bring along other people without checking first?

0-No, I always discuss it with my walking partner first
1-Sometimes I have last-minute guests join us.
2-I never check first, the more the merrier, right?

7. Do you get impatient with the number of stops each of you make for restroom, etc.?

0-No, we've discussed it; we know what to expect
1-At times we get impatient with each other
2-We never seem to need to stop at the same time, and it's irritating

8. Have you discussed when you want to talk and when you want to be silent or listen to your own music?

0-Yes, we've agreed on these things
1- We've brought it up but still are out of sync sometimes
2-No, it irritates me when she tunes me out or won't accept that I'm done talking

9. Do you take non-emergency phone calls and texts while walking?

0-No
1-Rarely
2-Often

10. Do you whine?

0-No
1-Just a little
2-Got some cheese to go with my whine?

Total Your Score

How do you rate?

0-5: You are a great walking partner! Congratulations! We should all be so lucky to have you as a walking partner! You follow most of the 10 rules for walking partners. You respect your walking partner's time and needs. You keep your walking conversation pleasant and provide good walking companionship.

6-11: You are a FAIR walking partner. You follow some of the 10 rules for walking partners but not as often as you could. Remember to respect your walking partner's time and needs. Remember to keep your walking conversation pleasant and provide good walking companionship.

12-17: You are a POOR walking partner. You follow some of the 10 rules for walking partners but not as often as you could. Remember to respect your walking partner's time and needs. Remember to keep your walking conversation pleasant and provide good walking companionship. You may want to consider walking alone or rotating your walking partners so you are only annoying one at a time.

18-20: You are a BAD walking partner. You almost never follow the 10 rules for walking partners. You rarely show respect for your walking partner's time and needs. Your best option is walking alone or rotating your walking partners so you are only annoying one at a time.

Continue Reading