When you’re passionate about something it’s only natural that you want to share it with your significant other right, but what if that something is running and what if your significant other is literally having none of it?
The number of women running is at an all time high, as fierce females feel empowered to tackle their fears and take up a sport that leaves them feeling both physically and mentally fantastic. We’re setting goals to achieve things way beyond our comfort zones, and as more and more of us do it, the positive message starts to spread. Women, for all our faults (come on ladies, we do have maybe one or two), know how to come together when we need to. We know how to support, we know how to encourage, we know how to set goals and ultimately we know how and when to ask for help.
Men on the other hand….well they’re an entirely different breed.
So here’s the deal, I’m gonna try my absolute hardest to keep this post as non sexist as I possibly can, but be warned I will make quite a few sweeping statements and yes this probably will annoy some of you.
But quite frankly I’m all about the tough love and if you have any hope in hell of getting your man out running, and believe me I’m still to crack it with my own hubby, then we are deffo gonna have to ramp up those tough love levels!
So to hell with it, I’m all for saying what I think. Let’s lay our cards on the table and kick it off with a good ‘un…I think one of the reasons men won’t give running a shot is because they’re worried they won’t be any good at it.
See, from what I’ve noticed during my admittedly very brief period as a runner, is that men run very differently to women. And I’m not just talking physically, no I’m talking about what goes on in those heads of theirs. Women will run in a group, happily chatting away to one another, encouraging each other along and stopping for a breather if need be, men on the other hand are all about the competition and the results. They get all Johnny big balls and feel the need to prove that they’re the best, that they’re top dog, and woe betide anyone who dares get in the way of their precious Strava crown.
Which means for the beginner male, who’s quivering in his trackies at the prospect of having to size up against these pseudo elite athletes, well it just ain’t worth getting off the sofa for. And I can hardly blame them, they’ve been at work all day, they’re knackered, and quite frankly all they wanna do is watch the footie with their feet up and a beer (sorry that was totes a sexist stereotype alert!).
One question that got asked of me recently was that if you’ve got a successful women’s run group, one that helps women who have never run before, trains them up from barely being capable of running to catch a bus to being able to run 5k and beyond, and you want to expand out to help men in the same way, how do you tap into that male psyche?
You’ve gotta get clever that’s what, so I’ve put together a few of my own ideas of how I think you might possibly be able to tempt your man off of that sofa and into his lycra.
It Involves Beer
No seriously it does. Most of the men I know, if you mention the word beer, their little ears prick up and you’ve got their attention. Ideally you want to start your run conversation with this word, just to make sure they’re proper listening and not doing that thing where they’re nodding and chucking in the occasional response when they’re actually thinking about what they had for lunch.
You’ve then got two options:
- Tell him about how social run groups can be. How a run always ends up in the pub for a couple of pints after, and that not only would he be getting some exercise but he’d also be getting a night out.
- Tell him about the pub to pub run, which basically involves, as the name would suggest, running from one pub to another.
Like putty in your hands!
Counting The Pennies
You show me one man who doesn’t like to save money. They ALL do. And running, well it’s free ain’t it! None of this costly gym membership malarkey, oh no, the only equipment you need is your legs. Well OK so there’s the trainers…and the run kit…and maybe a few quid if you join a group, but trust me it is way, way cheaper than signing up to a gym that you don’t even go to. Just saying!
Ticket To Time Out
I bet you that if you were to ask your man why he won’t try running, or any exercise for that matter, that one of the reasons he’ll give is that he doesn’t have time. Sorry but that doesn’t cut it with me. We’re all time poor these days and I doubt it’s got to do with them not having enough time, but more to do with them not wanting to use some of their precious time on exercise. Politely point out all of the things you manage to cram into your day – I could compile a massive long list here of everything I do in a day, but I know you don’t need me to plus I’m not entirely sure there’d be enough room, it’s long that’s all you need to know. And yet strangely I still manage to find time to fit in exercise, because I care about the health of my body and I’d quite like to live as long as I possibly can too. It’s all about prioritising, and honestly the health of your body should be pretty high up on that priority list. He’ll probs just think you’re nagging, that’s what men like to call it when you tell them something they don’t want to hear, so my advice is to tell him that if he were to start running then it would give him a free pass out of having to do bathtime – you watch how fast he runs then!
Use It Or Lose It
There’s that age old saying, that unless you’re using something then you’re gonna lose it. No you filthy bunch I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about the body and it’s need for regular exercise to help increase muscle strength, power, coordination, stability, flexibility, to help control weight as well as fight off health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and problems with joints and ligaments in later life.
Did you know that after the age of 40, the body starts to deteriorate and unless it’s looked after properly, by which I mean feeding it the right food, using it correctly and giving it enough rest, then the decline into old age happens at a much quicker rate. The metabolism slows down, fat is more easily stored, and medical issues become more common.
Men are far more likely to approach exercise with a hammer and tong attitude, having done nothing for ages and then going all out in that first session. And all that achieves is an injury, which then plonks them right back on that sofa muttering the words “I knew exercise was bad for me”.
Encouragement is the key word here ladies, and ideally you want to make them think they’ve come up with the idea themselves rather than you ‘nagging’ them into it. Discretely leave a running magazine out on the table, or perhaps sneakily invite them to join a male running group page on Facebook. Keep it subtle, but infiltrate their minds and they’ll totally be on board in no time.
Setting A Good Example
We’re always moaning about how the kids of today spend too much time on screens and that they should be out in the fresh air running around more, which is then your cue to shout “ummm pot calling kettle black”! Remind him that children follow by example and that it is his fatherly duty to show his children respect for their bodies, to want to look after it and most importantly how to look after it. Yep, play the kid guilt card, it’s a low blow…but somebody’s gotta do it!
Mention The Gadgets
Come on, you tell a man there’s gadgets to be had and he’ll be all over it like a rash! Do what any good wife or girlfriend should do in this situation and get in all the gadget catalogues you can get your grubby little hands on and show him just what delights are on offer to him if he were to take up running. If that doesn’t work then heck you’re gonna have to buy him some of that gadget porn for Christmas – watch him get outta that one!
Play The Helpless Female Card
And finally, if he’s really not budging, you’re gonna have to play the final card in the deck and lower yourself to the depths of being the helpless female. Tell him that you’re struggling to get motivated, that you NEED him to help you, that you can only reach your goals if he helps you. That unless he comes out running with you, you’re likely to give it up, and you’ll only succeed with him by your side. Obviously it’s all a load of tosh, but men love to think of themselves as that knight in shining armour, so let ’em believe what they want.
Right, OK so I admit it, this is all a bit tongue in cheek, but my point is that well if you’ve never run before then of course you’ve got some reservations. Male or female, no one likes doing something they think they might not be any good at, or that people may laugh at them, or that they might not be as good as someone else, they might not be able to keep up, they might hurt themselves, they’ve got dodgy knees, they’ve got a bad back…the list of excuses is literally endless. But the fact remains that you don’t actually know any of these things unless you give it a try. You get one shot at this thing called life and you’ve got one body, treat it well and it will treat you well, fill it with junk and leave it to rust, well you’re gonna end up falling to bits.
I’m going to leave you with one question…