How to Bribe the New Runner in your Life

By Seth Grotzke

If your running habits have driven your family to hate the sport (or you), you may want to consider your long-term strategy.

Not all human beings view running as an essential, nor even desirable, aspect of life. If you happen to be related to one of those individuals, you may have found yourself arguing for the freedom to take another training run, to invest in some better kit, or to skip a reunion/birthday/anniversary/birth of child in order to make it to a race. Contrary to popular opinion, asking for forgiveness instead of permission is not the best relationship advice.

This upcoming series of articles will be geared toward finding the middle ground between having time to only run 5 km races the rest of your life and leaving your significant other in your ultra marathon dust.

Perhaps for you, members of your family have seen the enjoyment that running brings to your life, and are entertaining the idea of joining you. It is a slippery slope, my friend, but there is no shame in giving this budding runner a little shove to get things started.

In order to convince the new runner in your family to keep joining you on your weekly runs there needs to be some incentive. In order to make that transition from “running sounds like a fun idea” to “I am going to stick with this masochistic abuse of my body until I can finish a race and get one of those medals”, I would recommend cushioning the blow.

I polled the resident experts at RunUltra for their opinions about what pieces of kit (excluding shoes) help keep the beginning stages of running from being overly miserable.

Their suggestions can fall under one of three categories: Comfort, Navigation, and Motivation.


Getting out of the door the first time isn’t the hardest part. It is going out the door a couple days later when you know what awaits you that hurts. Contemplating your second outing of running is akin to contemplating your follow up visit to the dentist. You know it is necessary, but you really wouldn’t mind investing in dentures sooner rather than later. Here are some top pieces of kit to make that second time out more comfortable:

For the Feet:

  • New socks!! (Alice Morrison)
  • Toe socks (no blisters). (Sarah Cooke)
  • Gaiters (if trail running), to stop debris getting into your shoes, especially if you wear wide fitting shoes. (Sarah Cooke)

For the Face:

  • Buff – the most versatile accessory for any runner, holds water when hot, dries sweat when hot, when cold it covers face in biting wind and keeps your neck warm. I have used it in first aid and as a face mask in sand storms (cut slits for eyes). (Steve Diederich)
  • Always food… and because power bars suck. (Alice Morrison)

For the Body:

  • Flipbelt: This is also one of the cheapest but best items of fitness kit. It allows you to have easy access to a phone (for taking pics) and to a secure hook for your car key.
  • Merino baselayer – warm, breathable, light and they repel odours, so you can wear them multiple times without washing and they don’t smell. (Sarah Cooke)
  • A skort. I only wear skorts now. Not shorts… just a skort. (Fiona Outdoors)
  • Hydration pack – This is the best pack I have ever used (for slimmer ladies). No movement, rubs or irritations. (Fiona Outdoors)
  • And… A Rab jacket when it’s freezing to start. You can take it off when you warm up a bit. (Alice Morrison)
  • Running poles, forget that you look like a middle-aged rambler – these have saved my knees and built my balance whilst also being used to clear undergrowth and challenge a snarling dog. Minimal weight and a range of usage styles make this an essential long-distance addition to the armoury. (Steve Diederich) (some of the RunUltra favorites: Dynafit Ultra Pro Poles; Leki Poles; Black Diamond )

And for the Rich:

  • A new pair of trainers to wear every time out for the first month. There’s so much choice these days that I figure it would take me at least that to come up with makes and models that suit all my possible running combinations: Training wet roads, training dry roads, training mud off road, training rocky off road, training trails short, training trails long, racing wet roads, etc. That probably means space-saving trainer storage as well… and a rotation system… and a cleaning and drying system. (Andy Mouncey)


Once you have your loved one out the door and exploring new terrain, there are a few pieces of kit that will help keep them alive. All of us have stories about our “quick tempo run” turning into a half-marathon survival slog in the middle of the night without fluids… everyone, right? So, our RunUltra staff contributed ideas of how to keep the new runner on the right track.

  • “A really good running head torch like a Petzl. It is brilliant for winter running. My husband and I go running in a nearby local forest trails after work and the light it gives is super. It means you can get fresh air all year round instead of just the treadmill or city lights.” (Karina Teahan)
  • A map, a compass and knowing how to use them. Then a running watch with navigation if you need some extra support. (Dan Stinton)
  • Smart phone – use for navigation, recording run, emergencies, camera and checking out races on RUNULTRA …. (Steve Diederich)


As we all know, all the shiny kit in the world won’t keep you out running in the rain and ice. There has to be something more. And that something more is what runners inevitably find while out on the trail, new and lasting friendships.

  • You could go with Andy Mouncey’s advice and hire Gunnery Sargent Foley, the scary shouty one from “An Officer and a Gentleman”, to get you out the door…or not.
  • New music playlists, or for the more studious, audiobooks.
  • Join a local running club – one of the best things I did to improve and enjoy running. Definitely recommended to anyone starting out. (Dan Stinton)
  • You. You are the reason that this person is out running. They want to be with you, or at least with you while you are enjoying yourself. Don’t take that lightly.

The new runner in your life might not ever sign up for an ultramarathon with you. They may never even run a race with you. However, if your passion for the freedom of the trail opens their eyes to the possibility of exploring the path that bends in the undergrowth, then both of you are better for it.

Call to readers: What kit would have been helpful for you as you began your first forays into the wide world of running?

For those shameless among us, take a moment and share this with your family and friends, conveniently highlight any kit you would like for your upcoming birthday.

Bio: You can read more of Seth’s musings here. His goal is to keep some “real” in the ultra scene and help provide a stabilizing influence for the world through sarcasm.

"All of us have stories about our quick tempo run turning into a half-marathon survival slog in the middle of the night without fluids… everyone, right?"

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