Running a reciprocal sport


By Lisa Unger


Most of us are familiar with the word reciprocal. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as; “returning the same way; shared, felt or shown by both sides; consisting of, or functioning as a return in kind; and mutually corresponding.” Since the premise of reciprocals lies in multiples, how can it possibly relate to the solitary sport of running? The answer is that it relates in infinite ways, bounded only by our imagination.

It’s a reciprocal effect that everyday we practically torture our bodies with our workouts and training runs, but receive the benefit of conditioned cardiovascular systems, strong and toned muscles and peaceful souls. Sometimes a long training run can be so tiring and gruesome that it seems like something extracted from the mind of Stephen King. The faces of concentration and agony worn by marathon runners who are near the end of their journey depict almost inhuman physical exertion. But their strong bodies are the personification of health and fitness. By running we can trade the stress accumulated each day for inner peace and harmony. That is, we experience the reciprocation of physical exercise for well-being. We know that we gain health benefits from running, but what else?

There is the reciprocal relationship between beginning runner and leader. Try joining a beginner running group as a leader to reap the benefits of this give and take relationship. Your speed or fitness level won’t matter, but the example you set and the encouragement you give to a new runner is something that she will remember for a lifetime. The reciprocal is that while you run with the group and inspire them, in return they emulate and respect you. What a great feeling it is to hear someone tell you a few years later that they might have given up on running if you hadn’t been there to keep them going.

Another way to experience a reciprocal relationship in running is by volunteering at a school. Most coaches at local schools are happy to have volunteers to help with team practices and meets. At this level you not only receive the benefit of respect, but there’s also an added bonus. While you help the school team train you can glean professional running advice from the coach. The instructions and advice given by the coach to his runners can be carried over to your own running.

These are some obvious reciprocal relationships in running. With a little imagination, many others can be found. You can join one of the teams in training and help find the cure for cancer or leukemia while you improve your own health. You can take your child running to gain new respect for each other as well as instill good physical fitness habits in a young person. You can run to raise awareness of innumerable causes. Whatever venue you choose, when you run with a reciprocating reason, everybody wins.