Share the Love: How to Mentor a Novice Runner
There’s something very powerful about being able to pass along your passion and wisdom by teaching a newbie the joys of running. Here’s how you can pay it forward.
Find a Noob
If you want to mentor a new runner, the first step is to find a new runner who is interested in being mentored. If someone mentions that they’re looking to try something new on the exercise front, engage them in a conversation about running. You can also try meeting new runners by joining a local running group. Just make sure to avoid being pushy, because a reluctant runner will not likely be receptive to mentorship.
If your first time out with your mentee is a grueling 10 miler, you’re very likely never to see them again. Start with something that you know will feel manageable and enjoyable to the new runner you’ve brought under your wing. Maybe try an easy 3-5 mile run followed by lunch or coffee. Take the opportunity to chat about running motivations and aspirations. Focus on asking questions and listening well, instead of talking for hours about your own running accomplishments, which can be intimidating to a new athlete.
Celebrate Small Victories
Running 5 miles without stopping for a walk break may feel as easy as tying your shoes, but something like this can be a big accomplishment for a newer runner. As you develop a relationship with the person you’re mentoring, take note of what they would consider to be a victory, and celebrate the victories together, no matter how small. Post some props on their Facebook page, or shoot them an encouraging text to help them celebrate a milestone along their journey.
Goal setting is of course crucial if a runner wants to develop and progress. Talk with your mentee about their running aspirations, and help them to figure out a good first goal. Maybe they want to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, or complete a hilly trail loop without walking. Guide them as they create a specific goal and then develop action steps to accomplish their goal. This is a great time to share some of your experiences as a runner when it comes to motivation strategies and chasing down running dreams.
When your mentee is ready to sign up for a race, choose a race and sign up together. This race is all about supporting the newbie you’re mentoring, so be prepared to run their pace and encourage them if they hit a wall during the race. Beforehand, encourage them by talking about the fun atmosphere of races to help them get psyched and stay relaxed as the race approaches. And on race day, don’t forget to snap a few photos of their first race for their fridge.
Have you mentored a new runner? Tell us about your experience.