Nurturing a New Running Buddy
If you’ve got a loved one that you’re dying to run with, there’s nothing more exciting than that magical day when they finally decide to lace up their shoes! Whether you’re hoping a friend will start running to improve their health, or you’d just like to find a hobby that you and your significant other can enjoy, you can help set them on the path to success with just a few simple tips.
- Set reasonable expectations: Remember the early days of your running career? You probably thought you’d just stride off into the sunset with ease as you set off to run your first mile. Many new runners believe that they should be looking like a seasoned pro right out of the gate, but this can set them up for disappointment. In reality, everyone starts somewhere, and many people find success with a walk-run interval program. Help your new running buddy by suggesting a program like the Galloway Method or Couch-to-5k to encourage them to start slow. You’ll be doing them a favor by boosting their confidence as they achieve small victories along the way, while also helping prevent overuse injuries that are so common in new runners who do too much too soon.
- Celebrate the small stuff: Speaking of the small stuff, you know that there are good running days and bad running days, but new runners might not. Look for areas of improvement they might not notice, like more strength on a tough hill, better form, or the fact that their first “long-run” distance is now their go-to midweek run. New runners often expect every run to be faster than the last and every race to be a PR, so it’s a good idea to celebrate small victories along the way so they stay encouraged.
- Let them set the pace: Do you remember your first time running with another person or a group? You were probably pretty nervous, right? If you go for a run with your new running buddy, let them set the pace. They should be able to run at a conversational pace but recognize that you might be doing most of the talking as their lungs adjust. To keep yourself from getting carried away and pushing the pace, stay at their shoulder or just a step behind if possible. Do your best to keep the conversation going by regaling them with stories along the way. They won’t notice the miles are flying by!
- Practice what you preach: You’ll undoubtedly have lots of great advice for your new running buddy, but make sure you’re following it yourself. If you tell them not to push the pace on every run but then always run the same speed, you’re not sending the right message. Similarly, encourage them to listen to their bodies – and listen to yours! Rather than espousing the “do as I say, not as I do,” philosophy, really commit yourself to the rules of running that we all know and often ignore. They’re looking up to you!
- Help them get geared up – the right way: Running may seem like a simple sport with minimal equipment, but the most important piece of gear is obviously the right running shoes. New runners often believe any old pair they have in their closet will do, but we know that’s not true! Still, new runners who aren’t sure if they will like running may not be interested in making the investment in the right gear. If it’s someone really close to you, consider putting your money where your mouth is and buy them their first pair of shoes. After all, what’s better than the gift of running? Of course, make sure you take them to their local running store, like Fleet Feet Tulsa, to be properly fitted, no matter who’s paying!
At the end of the day, your loved one may not love running as much as you do, and that’s ok! Try not to take it personally. Keep that perspective for a happy home and many memorable miles to come!