Think back to when you first fell in love with running, the day you finally felt that elusive runner’s high or ran a 10K with ease. It’s a truly awesome feeling and the only thing that feels as good is helping another person experience it. But for the uninitiated, the hard part isn’t necessarily the training and physical challenges, but the motivation and mental aspects. It’s important to take it slow and show them the fun side of running. So if you want to encourage a non-runner in your life to join the sport—the friend who doesn’t know where to start, or a coworker who has tried and failed in the past, or the spouse you’ve decided should be your new running buddy—try these tips to help them find their stride and fall in love too.
Shop ’til you drop
Start the process off on a fun note by taking your buddy to a few of your favorite shops. Show her a couple options for shorts and leggings, take her to a sneaker fitting, and teach her the importance of a well-fitting sports bra. She’ll look good, feel good and be excited to work out in her new wardrobe.
If your pal is an exercise virgin, take it easy on her and begin by walking around the neighborhood together. Tack on a few blocks every couple days and then ease into a walk-run program to build stamina. Got a pal with a fitness past? If she’s comfortable, move right into running and keep the pace conversational to start before upping the ante.
Share the wealth
Keep her interest in running piqued by sending her links to your bookmarked blogs and websites, or treat her to a subscription to your favorite running magazine. If you have other running buddies, introduce your friend and try running as a group to switch things up and share the camaraderie.
Save up the gossip
Just like some people only allow themselves to watch certain TV shows when they’re on the treadmill, the same technique can work to motivate your friend to keep showing up for your runs. Agree to only chat about the juiciest topics—your favorite reality show or the drama from the party you went to last weekend-during your training sessions together. This will not only help you both to look forward to running, but the fun conversations will make the time pass quickly.
Set a goal and a reward
Once your friend is on her feet, talk to her about setting a goal you can work towards together. Does she want to sign up for a race? Run 5 miles without stopping? Whatever it is, create a training plan that’s going to get her there and commit to the workouts together. Be sure to come up with an incentive to keep her motivated and you accountable—think a spa day or a night at the movies when you reach your goal. Before long your non-runner will be a full-on runner. On to the next one!