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Make the running bug contagious! Use these reader-tested tactics to help motivate your friends and family to hit the streets.
Wendy Toth, a 30-year-old runner from New York City, has a clear mental picture of her ideal Sunday morning: I’d go for a long weekend run with my boyfriend, and then we’d stop by a café for coffee and read the paper in post-workout bliss. The only snag in her plan? Wendy’s boyfriend hates to run.
Ever harbor similar fantasies of sharing your passion for running with close friends and families? While our sport isn’t for everyone, encouraging the ones you love to engage in a healthy activity can be fun and rewarding for all involved. Try these road-tested tactics from fellow Women’s Running readers to encourage others to get up and go. . .
Tori Brooke, a runner from St. Petersburg, Fla., says the key to getting friends on board with running is to propose it as a way to socialize. Brooke says she and her friends use their 7 a.m. Saturday runs as catch-up time. “Everyone wants to be healthy, happy and surrounded by friends,” she says. “I really can’t think of a better way to do all three all at once in perfect harmony.”
While battling with post-pregnancy weight gain and depression, Allison Write of Decatur, Ala., took up running as a way to overcome her struggles. She documented her journey, beginning with a couch-to-5k race and ending with a half marathon, on Facebook. The posts inspired many of her friends to start running as well. “I would post after most runs—on both bad and good days,” says Write. “My friends started doing same thing.”
Judy Liu, 37, a runner and mom of two from Cary, N.C., decided she wanted to sneak some physical activity into her weekly book club meeting. “Initially, when I told them I wanted to get the group running, everyone claimed to not be a runner,” she says. “It’s better not to describe it as a running group. Just say, ‘Let’s walk or run and discuss the book while we go.’”
Liu’s group of six takes mini-breaks after every mile run to rest and discuss. “Seeing others lose weight in a healthy way encourages everyone else to get a little more active,” she says.
Carol Goodrow, 62, a teacher from Sturbridge, Mass., and author of Kids Running: Have Fun, Get Faster & Go Farther, says she has used running to teach her students about the seasons.
For 100 days out of the school year, Goodrow took her class out for a brief run and asked them to note something from nature while they were outside, which they then documented on a chart. “As we looked at our 100-days graph, we saw the seasons changing. It was really exciting for the kids,” she says.
Goodrow also suggests signing children up for their own races rather than dragging them to adult events. If your kids aren’t yet up to speed, you can start by taking them out for a walk or jog twice a week. “You can say, ‘We’re just going to jog for two minutes!’” she says. For more ideas, check out her website, carolgoodrow.com.
After Jessica Wozinsky, 30, a runner from New York City, finished her first marathon, she knew she needed to get her dad in on the fun. “Running involves a structured schedule. I like having a lot of structure and so does my dad,” she explains. Wozinsky’s 58-year-old father was skeptical at first, but she encouraged him to take it slow and to start simply by running a few laps around the neighborhood track.
Eventually, Wozinksy’s dad agreed to accompany her to her running group practice. “I introduced him to a woman in my group who was 60 at the time. I think that made him realize: If she can do it, maybe I can do it,” Wozinsky recalls. As proof that her persistence paid off, last year Jessica and her dad finished a triathlon together.
Stephanie Cajigal is a health and beauty writer based in New York City.
Photo by Corbis Images