5 Ways to Pay the Running Love Forward

Friday 5This post originally ran on May 25, 2012. Since Boston, we’ve all felt the comfort of our community of runners coming together like it never has before. In honor of all our running sisters and brothers we rerun this post and as always, please share any other ideas you have for giving back to the running community, in general and in light of the bombings.

One of my favorite things about the sport of running is sharing the love of running with others. Sometimes we get so caught up in our training with our eyes on our PR goals that we all forget how much we love the sport and forget how fulfilling it is to share that love. I know it happens to me from time to time. However, when I’m pregnant, like now, I’m not so focused on my own training and it’s a great time to focus on my love of the sport and share that with everyone around me, including my non-running friends and family who must certainly think I’m a lunatic by now! But we can all stand to share the love more. It will make running more enjoyable for ourselves and those around us. Win-Win!

With that in mind here are the 5 ways we can all pay our love for running forward!

1. Cheer. Head out to local races and cheer your little heart out! You can get a run in before the race or even during–run the course backwards and cheer for everyone along your way. I ran along the CLE Marathon course cheering on every runner I saw and it felt AMAZING. It was hot and miserable and even so it seemed to put a smile on many people’s faces. It definitely put a perma-smile on mine!

Probably not the best sign for marathon cheering! Image via blisstree.com

2. Volunteer. All races always need volunteers. There wouldn’t even be races without them! Contact any race management company, race director, running club or running store and ask about volunteer opportunities. Plus runners make the best race volunteers because you know what other runners want. You know how runners identify the cup they want to grab or how they want to be treated in the finish chute. Donate a little time and make many other runners’ day!

3. Pace. This might just be my favorite way of paying it forward. I love helping friends achieve prs! The best way to do this is to find a friend who wants to run a pace in a race close to your training pace (so a slower friend–remember it’s all relative, folks!) and go for it. I did this back on December. My friend B wanted to break 21:30 for a 5k and I had 12 @ 7:00 on tap. So, my training buddy and I did a few at 7:10 and then I jumped in the 5k and paced B to a 21:06! It was awesome to see B push herself and I was able to guide her through and let her know that she was working hard but not dying! I was so psyched for her–maybe more excited than I’ve ever been about one of my own prs!

4. Advise. Answer friends’ facebook or twitter questions about running. Read blogs and offer advise when asked. Help people you know who are just starting out. Listen to your friends vent about struggling through a rough patch. Share your knowledge, experience and joy.

“So you peed your pants, fell on your face, got passed by a guy in a tutu, puked in the chute and ran 45:00 slower than your PR. You’ll have a better race next time.” Image via buffalocov.org

5. Run with New Friends. I really value all my running friends–the slower ones, the faster ones and everyone in between. When my training and schedule allows it I make sure to run with new people any chance I get. Now that I’m pregnant I have the opportunity to run with my old fast crew on their easy days and then slower friends all the time! When I’m in the throes of serious training I rarely get to run with slower friends so I really relish this time. If you’re coming back from injury or another break or recovering from a big race take the time to run with some slower friends while you can. Also offer up your companionship to faster runners on their easy days. Mix it up and share the love!

How do you share your love of running?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. Great ideas in this post, and examples of how giving runners can be as a whole. When I was starting out, the help and advice of more experienced runners was so valuable. Recently I helped begin a Couch to 5K program at my workplace including leading weekly workouts. On Race Day it was so exciting to share the delight when these new runners crossed a Finish for the first time. I have also been a pace group leader in a few half marathons and one full marathon, and love answering questions at the expo and helping the runners achieve a goal or get through the last, tougher miles. PS I think I can help you out with #5!

    1. Awesome, Andrea! You and Lloyd are super fantastic members of the running community and are much appreciated for it!

      Help with #5? Sweet! Next weekend maybe?

  2. All great ways to pay it back! I have done all, although I still want to someday be an official marathon pacer as well. How cool would it be to lead a group to their marathon PR?!

  3. Two things that I love doing. One (and I recognize that not everyone can do this) is paying for a race entry for someone who doesn’t have the same cash flow that my husband and I do. I can’t do it for every race I do, but when I have a chance to and I know a friend or acquaitance that is struggling financially, it’s a great feeling.

    The second, and something I think everyone can do, is “careful re-direction” of gently used running clothes. Never, ever just send them to Goodwill or put them in the bin somewhere! Ask around your local running stores or friends for an underprivileged high school runner, or find a track/cross-country program in an underprivileged area. Tech shirts and “cool” running shorts (with the liners cut out of them before donating) are a godsend to these kids – who are often running in cotton or can’t afford the Nike and Adidas brands that are so popular. We may have just “phased out” of a particular style or found something we like better – give those slightly used but still functional technical duds a chance at a second running life!

    1. I love this idea about “re-direction”. Very cool idea and one I’ll be sharing with my running group!

  4. All great suggestions! I do something that’s a hybrid of #2 and #4, I guess, as I’m really active with our local Girls on the Run chapter. It’s always amazing to see the progression of the girls’ abilities and confidence over the course of the season.