If you're like me, then sometimes your running becomes a very inward experience. You focus on your training, your eating, your runs, and your cross training or you just use the time to think about work, your family, and money issues, or you just think about absolutely nothing. And there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. Running is probably one of the most therapeutic things (and cheapest forms of therapy) a person can do to help them find balance and stay sane in this hectic world of ours.
However, as a runner, I think it's also good to pay-it-forward. You know, give a little back to your fellow running buddies, to that nice lady you pass on the greenway every Saturday (but don't know her name), to the local running shop that helped you pick out just the right pair of shoes, to various mentors who've inspired you along the way, and to the running community (local or virtual) who have contributed to your running in one way or another.
Listed below are 10 ways during 2010 that you can give back to the running community by paying-it-forward. These are only 10, I'd love to here your ideas too!
- 1. Invite that colleague at work, at church, in your civic club that 's asked you about your running, to join you for a run. Go easy and show him/her the ropes.
2. Volunteer to help with a local race. Most will love the help!
3. Take that fellow running buddy who is down in the dumps over his/her training to breakfast or lunch and give him/her a pep talk. Encourage. Inspire. Motivate.
4. Find out the name of that unknown runner you pass each week. Let him/her know how inspiring it is to see him/her on your runs.
5. Listen to your running buddies. Find out more about their running experiences. Did they run in college? Did they just start running last year? A listening ear and a genuine interest can be extremely motivating.
6. Share your favorite running routes and in the process you'll probably learn a few new ones yourself!
7. Volunteer your time with a local youth running and/or track team. See if your local Parks and Recreation Department has a youth running program. If not, maybe you can organize one. Or see if there are any non-profit organizations in your community related to helping get our youth fit, such as GOFAR.
8. Be the debater in your running group. There's nothing like runners talking about "runner stuff." Start up a lively (but intelligent) discussion about the latest new running theory, injury-prevention technique, or the best running form. You'll be surprised how much you and your buddies will learn. Even if you don't all agree, if you all go back and investigate a little further the topics you've discussed while on the run, then you'll all be the better for it.
9. Give back to the community. Hold a shoe drive! You can donate the shoes to your local Goodwill Industries or send them to Soles4Souls who will distribute them to the shoeless around the world.
10. Run for a cause. Whether it's for organized groups like Team in Training and Joints in Motion or just your neighbor down the street that's hit some obstacle in their life, sometimes running for something other than the sake of running can bring a whole new element to your sport while at the same time helping others in need.