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August 29, 2013

Pay it Forward on the Run

Written by Dena Evans
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trash-run-pick-up-300x300The amount of money raised by runners competing for various charitable causes has grown a staggering and amount over the past several years.  We are well familiar with the “macro” type efforts to help those who need it through these amazing efforts. but sometimes we may forget  that there are ways in which we can make a difference in the course of our everyday run.  We’ve written before on practical and safety tips in a previous post on running etiquette, but here are a few ideas for ways in which you can “do good” next time you head out.

 

Pick up at least one piece of trash before you get home

Many of our favorite places to run haven’t always been treated with kid gloves by those that have tread on the paths before us.  Leave your route a smidge better than you found it, and maybe build some positive momentum for anyone who sees you and is inspired to do likewise.

 

Respect signs, directional signaling, and stay on the labeled paths

Oh, how it smarts when a favorite route is paved over, changed, or new signs ask runners to avoid previously popular informal short cuts along a trail!  Although it is tempting to continue as if those changes never had occurred, deep inside we know they were probably made for a reason!  Because we care about the long-term survival of these routes, it is probably in our own best interests to take the lead and make sure our footfalls occur in the areas requested, as annoying as that may possibly be.  Likewise, every time we run on the portion of the path intended for pedestrian travel, call out before passing, and revert to single file when oncoming traffic approaches, we also encourage others to do the same and keep traffic on these routes flowing safely and well for all.

 

Smile, wave, and say good morning!

Many runners reflexively follow this rule when passing others or encountering someone coming the other direction.  In addition to just being good manners, making the effort to smile and make eye contact with others may help improve their day, may help remind you that you are part of a larger community of people and that you are all advancing the cause of physical fitness and health, and may help you remember that person if you encounter them in a different context.

 

Run an errand (literally)

Corny as it may sound, using your feet to do something you normally do in your car – mailing a letter, picking up or dropping off a small item, might save you a bit of time, save you a bit of gas, and probably give you an outsized feeling of pride, knowing you did your part for the environment that day.  That said, every little bit does help, and on a day when you don’t have a hard workout to give a big sense of accomplishment or on a day when things aren’t going your way generally, checking something positive off the list can actually help change your mood in the process.

 

Invite someone for next time

If you’re running, you’re automatically doing something positive toward your health.  You may even cherish that time alone as your only quiet moments of the day.  However, remember the first time you went running or walking – it may well have been because another invited you along and welcomed you to the “tribe.”  When you have the opportunity, perhaps you can be that gateway to someone else and help them enjoy the benefits and adventures you have enjoyed during your running journey.

Last modified on November 29, 1999
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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