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.
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.
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?