This article, written by Muddy, first appeared in our October 2012 issue.
Just recently I looked back at my goals for 2012 (written on 31 December 2011) to see where I stand. Being runners in mind, body, and spirit, I’m sure this is something that most of you do from time to time throughout the year. I’ve managed to achieve several short term endeavors but am still working towards most of those pesky “long term” goals. One of those I’ve yet to check off the list is an annual ambition that I should’ve accomplished in years past. Every single year I strive to introduce someone to the sport, nay lifestyle, of running and get them to stick with it.
Since the dawn of time, modern man has always been influencing and coercing the lives of other humans, usually for the betterment of the species. We did not evolve from hunter/gathers to the more sustainable agricultural lifestyle without a little coaxing. Any historical migration requires a little persuasion as well. It’s likely that even the conversion to the use of electricity may have hit a few bumps in the road. Change is good for you, trust me.
However, at the same time, there are numerous historical changes which indicate that “I know what is best for you” is not always a good thing. The Spanish Inquisition and its wonderful pronouncement of Christianity (please note the sarcasm) is a fantastic example of human advancement gone awry. Some guy named Adolf pretended to know what was best for the masses and strove to thrust his ideas down the throats of Germans and the world at large. Heck, even this wonderful, economic debacle that has come to fruition in our society centered upon the premise “everything will be okay; just consume more.” There are more than a few examples of people telling us what is good for us.
Sorry, this soapbox I’m upon is so tall. I’ll get down now and focus on running—the only thing that really matters.
Is it acceptable to push our enlightened, healthy views upon others? Normally, I’ve a major problem with proselytizing as a whole, yet annually I feel the need to better the life of someone close to me; hence, my repeated goal of “persuade a non-runner to take up running (and fall in love with it).” I’ve succeeded in every attempt thus far in brainwashing someone and showing him how wonderful a life devoted to running can be. Although not always easy, it is amazingly rewarding to watch a friend, family member, or coworker blossom into a thin, almost malnourished-looking junkie. With this in mind, I’d just like to provide a few pointers and thoughts to consider when you venture out and spread the good word to the masses.
First, don’t let morphology and/or current fitness level sway you in selecting your target. What I mean is, don’t limit your selection to someone that is overweight and could stand to shed a few pounds. Nor should you choose someone with a smaller frame that will easily transition into a sleek and amazing harrier. Simply work on an acquaintance that you feel will benefit the most from our sport. Don’t forget, mental benefits of running are just as powerful and important as the physical ones.
Second, be sure and run with your target. This seems like an easy one; however, keep in mind that your newbie will not be ready to run 800 repeats or slog through a three hour, calorie devouring long run at 0500 on a Sunday morning. Instead, I’ve found it is easiest to schedule your recovery runs alongside your potential convert. What is a pressing pace and long distance for them is most likely a nice, easy relaxing shakeout for you. Remember, the goal is not for you to gain fitness here but simply to gain a running friend.
Third, don’t forget to encourage the creation and religious maintenance of a running log. This is obviously second nature for you and me, but some people have never kept journals and aren’t into recording data. Feel free to show them your running log (paper version) and suggest tips on what information to record as well as how to log it. Don’t worry; they won’t be critical of your splits and workouts. I’ll guarantee you they’ll simply stare in wide-eyed amazement at your meticulous notes.
Fourth, keep in touch with your friend. Remember all those questions and quandaries you had when you first started? Encourage your target to ask questions and answer any and all inquiries in a simple and honest manner. Don’t be afraid to occasionally question them in return. In fact, the Socratic Method may be employed as a powerful tool in assisting the development of the budding runner.
At the end of the day when you’re icing and rolling your tired legs, you can smile and rest assured that what you’ve done is a good thing. Satisfaction will come not only from achieving your training goals for the day, week, month, or year but also from populating our sport. You can take pride in knowing you’ve made the world a better place. It takes a village to raise a child but it only takes a fit friend to changes someone’s life. A word of caution, though: don’t be angry when three years from now that member of your congregation is chasing you down at a local 5k.
Now, go forth and preach the world of running!
Muddy Puddin’ is a renner but he aint no preacher man.
To read more from our October 2012 issue, click here.
To read from our current issue, click here.