I had a nice run this morning checking out the trails around UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) that connect to the Salado Creek Greenway. The cross country coach was kind enough to give me a tour. I didn’t run in high school or college (swam some of high school and played Spades in college), so I peppered him with questions about cross country and coaching. The ability to motivate others has seemed like a gift rather than a skill to me. S. thought otherwise and reminded me of the power of establishing a respectful relationship with someone. I’ve seen how students who feel a personal connection with a teacher sort the wheat from the chaff in the teacher’s presentation — and learn what the teacher is trying to get across. S. sees that in the coaching world.
He thought people were also motivated by other people’s happiness. “X. is full of life and happiness. X. is a runner. I want to be full of life and happiness. I will start running.”
The most interesting part of the conversation for me was the idea that people who are new to running need to start so slowly that they never feel entirely spent. They should always feel like the workout required a bit less than they were able to give. This means that the workout might not even be of much cardiovascular worth. You need to give someone time to establish a fondness for running. Without that, they’ll never continue. I haven’t been much help to my friends who have tried to incorporate running into their lives. I usually recommend signing up for a race as a motivator. I’d definitely like to be more helpful and I think the “start very very slowly” is a big insight. I think I come to this motivational failing honestly. When you’ve always just loved the act of running, it’s hard to figure out how to give that to others. My worst math teachers have always been the most gifted mathematicians. Seems analogous.
Well, I’d like to tidy up these thoughts a bit, but it’s time to go running — and socializing at Freetails. Come and join us if you’re in town.