A blog by runners. For runners.

Turning Non-Runners Into Running Partners

Sometimes runners just can't convince their friends and family to pick up the sport. This can be frustrating, as you probably want everyone you know to share your love of running. During our live text chat with Coach Jenny, someone asked how they can convince their friends to run with them. This caused me to think of my own experiences with non-runners, and the strategies I use to convince them to run. If you follow these steps, you just might turn some non-runners you know into your new running partners.

I can definitely relate to the frustration involved with trying to make non-runners…runners. I think many non-runners are intimidated hearing how far you've run. If I say I ran six miles to a non-runner, they probably can't fathom running such a distance. If I think back to myself before I became a runner, just the thought of running the mile in gym class seemed like torture. As a middle school student, I would often walk part of it with my friends. Building up to the mileage base I have now comes from running consistency. I'll never forget the first time I ran a 3 mile race. I thought it was the longest distance ever. Building up to marathons, your body definitely gets used to the mileage.

One of the biggest problems I face from new people I meet who find out I'm a runner, is they think I'm such an extreme one based on my mileage. “I ran six miles today” is likely to intimidate a non-runner. If they don't run at all, they won't think they can ever reach your “level of fitness” or mileage.

When I ask a non-runner friend to go for a run, they always decline the invitation. Their rebuttal is often, “I can't run as much as you.” I tell them I run slow, and that we could go for a mile. It doesn't always convince them to come for a run. I have found that my passion for running has been one of the biggest contributors to getting running buddies. My sister sees me compete in races and how excited I get. She would never go for a run with me, and now she will on occasion. She's actually a great runner and can run much faster than me. Although she can only go for shorter distances, it's worth it sometimes for the company. She's actually developed a love for running, and has told me that when she graduates high school she wants to start competing in marathons with me.

What more could a runner ask for from a non-runner?

Although this success is not always the norm, it definitely helps sharing your passion for running with others. WalkJogRun has a great system for tracking your runs using the training diaries. If you submit a training entry, you have the option to share it to Facebook or Twitter. The more you run, the more you share. You never know who may be inspired to turn into a runner from your Facebook friend list. Seeing your entries may just cause them to get off the couch, and run their first 5k. You never know ;) .

Coach Jenny offers more great advice on how to convince a non-runner to start running with you.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink:) That said, maybe start by asking if they want to go for a walk. Anyone can do that, it's social and it isn't intimidating like running. Many folks hate running from past perceptions. I used to hate it too – because it was always used as punishment in the sports I played. A group of co-workers invited me to train for a 5K and I resisted – when they said we would start with walking – I agreed because I knew I could do that. Little steps can lead to the confidence of trying running.

I think that's great advice, and definitely worth trying.

Have you had any success convincing a non-runner to run with you? What has worked for you, and what hasn't? Share your experiences in a comment below!