I’ll admit it- I have a problem. I love convincing people to sign up for ultramarathons. If they already run ultras, I ‘ll try to convince them to sign up for longer ultras.
I think most people seriously underestimate their own capabilities… not only as runners but in life in general. Completing a crazy-long race usually convinces people they can face any life challenge. Most of us possess the inner-strength to push beyond any and all physical and mental barriers. Those that don’t probably do, they just haven’t been placed in a situation where they’ve had to find that inner strength.
So what’s my magic formula?
Step One: The person needs a minor success. It may be as simple as having them complete a 5k. Maybe it will take a marathon. The goal is to get them to recognize that they are capable of running a given distance successfully.
Step Two: Introduce them to the ultra scene. The best method is having them volunteer at an aid station or crew and pace for a runner. The laid-back camaraderie of ultras appeals to pretty much anyone and will make the races seem attainable. Also, seeing the various body types of ultrarunners will help them realize you don’t have to have an elite marathoner’s build to run the races.
Step Three: Convince them to try a timed race. This is pretty easy since there’s no pressure to cover a certain distance. I like to use the “You can run one mile, then just spend the rest of the day hanging out and partying.” Of course, once they begin the race, they’ll push themselves to a mileage they wouldn’t have expected. That’s a huge confidence-builder.
Step Four: Find a cool race with an online signup option then get them drunk. You can probably guess how this plays out.
That’s it. Following these four easy steps will turn all your running friends into ultrarunners.
FYI- These steps can more or less be used to convince people to run barefoot, too.