Running, as a fitness activity, can get boring after some time. The expected benefits plateaus and runners are often on the look for new areas to motivate themselves. Those who take up running to lose weight would not be able to lose beyond a point; the quest for speed stops when one cannot run any faster. Some of them gravitate towards other fitness routines like cycling, gym, Yoga, or Zumba to do something new. Such changes also brings with itself other challenges like a new equipments, clothing, shoes, and in worst cases, new injuries and pains too. Then, there are other ways to make running more interesting.
1. Run with friends/family
Take time out to run with your friends or family members who are taking up running for the first time. In the process of motivating them to run, you would be invariably motivating yourself to run more and better. While appreciating their efforts to take up running, it would be a reminder to you on how far you have come from the time you started running. Such initiatives build better relationships and brings good health to everyone.
2. Be a pacer at running event
A Pacer is an experienced runner who runs a race within a defined time to guide other runners to finish before the time. For instance, in a 10 Km race, a 1-hour pacer would finish before the 1 hour mark (usually a few seconds before). Those running with him/her are assured of running the race within the specified time. To become a pacer, a runner choses a pace slower than their comfortable running pace. By pacing in an event, the runner foregoes their personal aspirations and helps others to achieve theirs. It is an altruistic activity and widely appreciated by fellow runners. My recent experience of pacing at Mumbai Marathon got me unprecedented amounts of appreciation that was worth more than all my medals. Training to run at a pace slower than usual is an experience in itself and at times, it feels like learning to run yet again.
3. Run for a cause
Apart from running events that are organised for raising funds for specific causes, like the Coimbatore Marathon for cancer awareness, runners can raise money by running marathons for a cause that they are passionate about. Major running events have exclusive registrations for runners opting to raise funds for registered charities that promote their cause. Runners participating in New York Marathon through Charity route raised over $40 million in 2018 for various charities. When running for a cause, training for a marathon takes a different dimension for the runner. It is no more about his/her personal achievement. In every conversation about the marathon with friends and families, the Cause takes the centre-stage. Every donation brings additional motivation to see the distance through. Finishing the event is no more a personal achievement but a step towards a social cause. Although at a nascent stage in India, runners participating in the recent Chennai Marathon raised over Rs. 27 lakhs for the restoration of lakes in Chennai.
4. Volunteer for an event
Volunteers are the back-bone for organising any marathons. It is practically impossible to organise an event of such huge magnitude without the support of volunteers. While the tasks handled by volunteers may look mundane at individual level, they are colossal as collective. Be it cheering for the runners, helping them with water, controlling traffic, or just guiding them through the finish areas, they provide extraordinary support to the event. The heartfelt thanks extended by runners creates a great sense of self-satisfaction for every volunteer. Volunteering does take significant amount of energy and sometimes, more tiring than running in the event. There is nothing more motivating than watching people run and it will make us fall in love with running again. As Katherine Switzer once wrote,
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”
5. Talk/write about running
By writing and talking about running, one becomes an evangelist for running and it brings commitment and respect in equal measure. The medium of broadcast is much wider and accessible, thanks to the Internet, and there is a place for everyone to express their thoughts in a manner that suits their audience. By sharing your views and ideas, you have an opportunity to hear from others and improve upon it. It helps you to explore many unknown facets about running and the positive changes that it brings to the lives of many. Every runner has a story that is wanting to be told. Over the years, the stories of my fellow runners have inspired me to do more in running.
For many runners, running starts as a fitness activity and has ended up as a way of life. It has enriched their lives by improving not only in their physical well being but also their mental well being. There is a lot that one can do by just simply putting one foot after another and moving forward.
An edited version of the article appeared in The Hindu – Metro Plus Coimbatore Edition. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/things-you-can-do-if-you-are-a-runner/article30769698.ece