By Seth Grotzke
I made a mistake with my last article and I fear that you may have been negatively affected by it. Perhaps you read how to bribe the new runner in your life and decided to go out and splurge on some new kit for your significant other. The result was that it worked…and it worked too well.
You have now experienced one or more of these dreaded outcomes:
1) Your significant other is actually a better runner than you.
2) Your significant other is starting to drop subtle hints that you should pick up the pace a bit on the hills.
3) Your significant other had the nerve to ask you to crew for them. *Shudder*
I sincerely apologise for my errors and hope that I can make amends with this article. What follows is a brief, yet effective, plan to stop your family member, spouse, or significant other from running. Of course, if for some unknown or illogical reason you want to keep encouraging someone in their running endeavors, just take the opposite of all the suggestions. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Use these proven strategies to slowly put the brakes on that new runner’s enthusiasm.
Use no affirmative words. Nothing is more detrimental to your dominance as the alpha runner than to offer up encouraging words. Key words and phrases to avoid are: “Good work!”, “Keep going!”, “You are doing great!”
Essentially, anything that you hear from those kind-but-lying aid station attendants in the last 20-miles of your big race. If you absolutely must say something, stick to vague affirmation. Better yet, you can always employ the put-down compliment, such as “Well, that wasn’t as bad as your last run.”
Do not, I repeat, do not ease them into the race scene. Encourage them to sign up for a ridiculously long race as quickly as possible, assuring them that their “fresh legs” and “indomitable spirit” will carry them through. Some particularly good options can be found here.
Insist that if they ever want to be a “real” runner they need to stick with the Uber-man training plan. No rest days. Ever. If they notice the inconsistency with your own mix and match training, politely remind them that you have built up a “solid base” which allows you to take rainy days, snowy days, icy days, and potentially sun-burning days off running.
For extra credit, show them that little clip of Kilian running up the mountain…using crutches…after he snapped his leg. That always gets me feeling chipper, and I am sure they would appreciate it when they are feeling tired.
Act very concerned if they feel sluggish after a particularly rough or stressful week. Season your conversation with anecdotes about grave diseases, amorphous symptoms, and phrases such as, “I don’t really want to mention this, but…” and “I’m not a medical professional, but I think…” Then suggest that they consult Dr. Google with their symptoms.
If these first four are a little too advanced, feel free to use these simpler strategies:
Send them out alone, on a boring route.
Set an unrealistic plan for average minutes per mile, using examples from your best races as though that is what you always run.
Encourage them to exclusively use those toe shoes, or pretty much any shoe for under £30. The cheaper the better.
If all else fails, poke them in the eye. They deserve it for upstaging you.
Sadly, for some of you, the damage has already been done. You now have another runner in the family. The best I can do for you is point you to some advice on how to crew well. Sorry.
Call to readers: Do you have any advice you could share? What has worked for you? Remember, we are in this together.
Bio: You can read more of Seth’s musings over at sethgrotzke.com. His goal is to keep some “real” in the ultra scene and help provide a stabilizing influence for the world through sarcasm.