The saying ‘running is a privilege’ couldn’t be truer, but it’s something we’ve all taken for granted at one time or another. The open road is our playground and there’s no shortage of races to run. We run, we complain about said run, and when it comes to critiquing races, runners are pretty unforgiving. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve all been that runner.
It’s time to show gratitude towards running and all that it entails. To remember the reasons that make running so awesome, to run for more than a t-shirt or a medal and to celebrate the hundreds of volunteers that get up early just so you can have a great race. As you think about what you’re grateful for, put your thoughts into action and find a way to show your gratitude for the run.
1. Run a race for charity. Most non-profit organisations have created fundraising programmes so that supporters can make their miles count. Consider running on behalf of your favourite charity. Not only is it an easy way to financially support a cause that’s important to you, the dog days of training will feel more meaningful.
2. Volunteer at a water station. Water stations are one of the most important parts of any race and it’s an area that probably keeps most race directors up at night. Ensuring runners are hydrated is extremely important and volunteers can easily make or break a race with a good (or bad) water station. It’s not the most glamorous job and you will probably leave wet and tired, but you’ll most certainly be inspired cup by cup.
3. Be a cheerleader. You’ve hit a wall. You’re not sure how you can make it one more step, let alone one more mile. But, you see a sign or hear someone yell “You can do it!” That little bit of inspiration gives you the second wind you need to finish. Without those crazy signs and spectators rooting us runners on, not only would it be pretty lonely out there, there’d be no encouragement to push through the mental anguish or the pain. Find a local race and return the favour by heading to the sidelines to cheer runners on.
4. Donate a pair of shoes to someone. Running is probably one of the least expensive sports. Buy a good pair of shoes and you’re all set. But, for many people, purchasing an expensive pair of shoes could be a tough choice to make. Pay it forward and gift a pair to someone in need.
5. Recycle or donate your old shoes. Your used running shoes are worth more than you think. They can be passed on to someone less fortunate or be used to resurface tracks and playgrounds. Instead of stockpiling them or tossing them in the trash, put them to good use and donate or recycle your retired shoes.
6. Acknowledge every runner on your route. I’m not sure if this is part of the 'runner’s code of ethics' but if it’s not, it should be added. Runners share a special bond. We’re all hitting the pavement, logging the miles and using running as a way to get through life. The very least we can do is acknowledge the commitment and determination we see in our fellow runners. Whether it’s “Hello,” a wave or simply a head nod, the next time you’re out for a run and see another runner, let them know that they aren’t alone.
7. Invite someone on a run. Finding the courage and motivation to become a runner is tough. Most of us didn’t wake up one day and say, “Oh, I’d like to go for a run,” and then skip excitedly out of the front door for a quick three-miler. For most of us, it took several days, months or even years to convince ourselves that dying within the first five minutes of a run was highly unlikely. And for most of us, having the extra nudge of a friend or colleague was exactly what we needed to embark on the journey. You never know what a simple invite on a run will do for someone’s confidence.
8. Support runners with disabilities. There are numerous organisations that support runners with disabilities. It was actually one of these organisations that inspired me to run. These athletes are the epitome of strength and determination. Find a way to support them.
9. Stay until the last runner has finished. How many times have you stayed at the finish line until the last runner came in? By the end of most races, runners have eaten, socialised and gone on their way. But what about the very last person that will arrive at the finish line with barely a handclap or congratulations? At your next race, stick around to cheer on all of the runners at the back of the pack. It will mean more to them than you could ever imagine.