To be a good steward of the running community is to ensure that the sport and the people who participate stand out in all the best ways. When you’re a runner, you’re part of a greater whole, and while it’s no one’s job to be an ambassador of that whole, it’s nice to be a positive representation. With great power comes great responsibility, and running sure does come with a whole lot of power.
While I don’t feel the need to become besties with every runner I see, I think it’s important to be welcoming. A simple acknowledgment goes a long way: it could be a nod or a smile, a wave or “hello”, or even some encouraging words. These are the things that stand out to others, and can really make someone’s day. Sometimes, I don’t even realize how much I’m struggling until I get a friendly thumbs up from another runner. It helps me feel seen.
Running is a sport of collaboration and knowledge. There is an endless supply of running-related information out there: gear, coaches, races, and so much more. And there is plenty to go around. A good steward of the running community shares the knowledge with people in need of that info. If asked, point people in the right direction for shoe fittings, run groups, favorite races, and all the things that come with the running territory. It serves to make the community stronger.
Offer encouragement and advice, when asked
Every runner has so much to offer by way of advice. After all, most of us have been at this for a while and are familiar with the injuries, hurdles, and challenges that come with the sport. If new runners have questions about things like training or missing toenails, help them out. However, be sensitive and try not to overstep. After all, not every runner has the same goals: they may be working on endurance and unsolicited advice about how to get faster would be unhelpful and misplaced.
Follow running and race etiquette
Rudeness in any sphere of life is never appreciated, so remember to follow running etiquette. Whether you’re on a training run or at a race, do your best to be mindful of yourself and those around you. A rude runners, who makes unsupportive comments, or who behaves aggressively can really cast a pallor on the sport. I never love being at races where other runners cut me off because they aren’t paying attention, or come to a dead stop in front of me without warning. It’s unsafe and distracting. Know the rules, and act on them.
Be a good sport
Even at the most competitive levels of running, it’s vital to be a good sport. Encourage those around you. Win and lose with grace. Celebrate your achievements and those of your peers. Create an environment where everyone feels wanted and valued. It’s for the benefit of all and only the members of the community can make it happen.
What are ways you think you can be a good steward of the running community?
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