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Tell Me Tuesday: How to Give Back to Running

My best 5K's have been along elementary-school aged girls.
My best 5K's have been along elementary-school aged girls.

For being a relatively simple sport—one foot in front of the other—running provides invaluable benefits: a strong heart + lungs, killer legs, endorphins, a clear-head and an instant kinship with anybody else who laces up, to name just a few.

That said, it’s also pretty much a solo sport, and it’s too easy to get caught up in your splits, your mileage, your recent PR—or lack thereof. So with the season of giving upon us, we wanted to suggest a few ways to give back to running.

Volunteer at a Race: So ridiculously simple to do—you can slice oranges or pour water, right?—and so inspiring, especially if you’re typically in either the front or back of the pack. Speedy runners appreciate how much determination and mental toughness it takes to be on a course much longer than they are, while slower runners can aspire to up their mph’s.

Mentor a Runner: Finding a mentee might take a little legwork—ask a your local running store or club, for starters—but the payoff is more than worth it. Helping another runner reach her goal, whether it’s a 5K without walking or a PR in 26.2, can make you feel more euphoric than you do after nailing a tough track session.

Run for Somebody Who Can’t: Send the strength you hone through your miles to an adult or child with special needs. I Run 4 matches you, and suddenly your tempo run on Wednesday takes on a whole new meaning.

After the end of their practice 5K, we coaches had the athletes sign the path in chalk.
After the end of their practice 5K, we coaches had the athletes sign the path in chalk.

Help Coach: You don’t have to be Jack Daniels to be an asset to a local cross-country team, a chapter of Girls on the Run, or another running outlet. Enthusiasm for the athletes, the ability to stick to the schedule, and post-practice snacks go a long way—and are always appreciated.

pile-of-running-shoes-011

Donate Old Shoes: Because how many pairs do you need to keep for mowing the lawn?

Pick up trash along your route. Because no matter what your speed or workout is for any given day, you can always slow down and make the view a little better.

Did we miss some good ways? How do you give back to running? 

7 responses to “Tell Me Tuesday: How to Give Back to Running

  1. Recently an acquaintance told me how much my encouragement kept her going. We had talked briefly about running well over a year ago and so I was happily surprised to consider what we say and the enthusiasm we breath into this sport goes a longer way than we can ever truly anticipate. It’s a positive cycle like all good service is. Because in turn, I felt enriched and encouraged to do more and be more as a result of her kind words to me.

  2. Another youth running program – Healthy Kids Running Series – Fun, encouraging, low-commitment 5 weeks series to encourage kids to get out and be active. Fall and Spring Series. I’ve been running one for 3 seasons now, and it’s a blast. To see the sense of accomplishment the kids get is so rewarding.

    They’re looking for new locations – start one in your area!
    http://www.healthykidsrunningseries.org/

  3. I try to volunteer at least once a year, if not twice. Being a running buddy for Girls on the Run is also a great way to give back and the time commitment isn’t much.

    Re: Donating shoes. My husband is a middle school teacher and cross country/track coach at a Title 1 school. Many of his athletes don’t have sneakers or ones appropriate for running (one girl had sequinned high tops) so I always save my shoes for a new season. There’s a lot of great groups that accept shoes but it’s worth noting that there might be a need in your community.

  4. All great suggestions!

    This goes with “pick up trash along your route”: I am always on the lookout for nails, screws, etc. on the streets. I think I save at least one person from a flat tire every time I go out for a run!

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