Culture

Out There: A Call for Kindness in 2015

New runners enter our world as part of their New Year's Resolution. Welcome them in.

My fellow runners,

Our new year will likely be your best yet; among us are future qualifiers for the Boston Marathon, first-time marathon finishers, ultrarunners touching the sky, Olympic hopefuls, diaper-dashers and jogglers.

That’s a lot of potential – and a lot of pressure. But amidst the resolutions of PRs and finish lines, don’t forget to include one very important goal for 2015:

Be kind.

The gyms will soon be filled with Resolutioners, filled with last night’s champagne and 2015’s blind optimism. They will hog the treadmills and forget to put the weights back in their proper place.

The sidewalks will have new fitness fiends slowly jogging three abreast as they gab about their new weight-loss plan.

The inside lane of the track will surely be filled by a walker at some point during your interval session.

Your coworker will ask a million questions about how to start running, each query dumber than the last.

There will be runners around you who choose the path of negativity. They’ll sigh loudly as they roll their eyes at the Resolutioners. They’ll glare at the new joggers—how dare they impede the progress of the real runners? They’ll yell at the walkers on the track to Move the eff over, what the hell is wrong with you? They’ll direct the coworkers to Google, because they’re simply too busy, too annoyed, or too far up their self-made pedestal. No matter the medium, the message is the same: You don’t belong in my community.

But the brighter you shine, the more the negativity fades.

Because, oh, they do belong. Every runner—even the best runners, even you—started somewhere. Someone answered your so-called dumb questions once. Someone gently pointed out how you should stay to the right of the trail or seed yourself properly in the starting corral. Someone paced you to a PR or sacrificed theirs to stay by your side as you experienced your very first bonk.

Make it a point in 2015 to be that someone for a new runner. Patiently wait your turn for the treadmill at the crowded gym. Run around the gaggle of new runners taking up the sidewalk. Offer to meet your coworker on Saturday morning for a short run, followed by a cup of coffee where she can pick your brain about shoes and training plans. Smile. Wave. Cheer. Sprinkle kindness like confetti.

In the new year, think, act, and speak as an ambassador of runners everywhere.

Because that’s exactly what you are.

****

About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she is a featured contributor to Triathlete and Women’s Running magazines. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with four animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, a pinscher and a freakishly tall triathlete named Neil. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke