How we can welcome new runners

Cold running

When someone starts running, quite often they won’t think of themselves as a runner. They probably don’t have the running gear that runners often wear. They don’t know whether they will get into it yet so don’t invest in this new hobby they’re dipping their toe into.

“I don’t know what I’m doing!”

When I first ‘went running’ I found it hard enough to get something that fit me and my mind was only focussed on trying to get around the course, not which brand or style I wanted.

Rich Lord running
Rich Lord running in 2012

I was trying to be a runner and not trying to look outrageous in the meantime. I was comparing myself to my non-running friends who didn’t dress like runners. I wasn’t yet comfortable wearing what those proper runners were wearing, and couldn’t see myself dressing like that yet either.

New runners certainly benefit when more experienced runners are understanding of the struggles the new runner is going through. They will be hopeful of compassion amongst their new peers to help them feel like they do or may one day fit in. I was very fortunate to have kind thoughtful people to help guide me and advise me when I didn’t know what clothes to try.

It is up to the new runner as to what they wear obviously but for others, we should help point them in the right direction should they wish to make small changes along the way.

This, I think, is a key point – others should be available to advise should their advice be asked for, but it is up to the individual to want to change. It is the responsibility of more experienced runners to be available for this.

Making participation accessible

When a new runner starts, they may have so many things they are working through as challenges as well as just the running itself. All groups should do all they can to make participation as accessible as possible. If the running family does all it can to be a community and to be supportive of new runners then they have more opportunity to grow and develop as new family members.

Running needs new runners and it as a sport/hobby/activity can do so much to make it a welcoming environment and there are many great examples of individuals and groups doing this.

My takeaway tip

One takeaway tip for this is for us not to forget that new runners aren’t just newbies, they aren’t just someone who may not have all the gear, they aren’t just someone who hasn’t got the same experiences in running yet, but that the main thing is that they are a fellow human being and they deserve our care and support as they start something new.

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