How to Deal With the Naysayers

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As runners, we like to talk about our passion, right? And inevitably we run into people who aren't so supportive of our favorite hobby.  What runner hasn't had someone tell them that “Running will ruin your knees” or ask, “Why would you run a race when you know you won’t win?”?

So what's the best way to deal with people who offer unsolicited (and often incorrect) advice or negative feedback about running?

 Here are the three types of naysayers you'll encounter and strategies for dealing with them:

1. Nosy people who know everything. These are the critics who want to tell you everything that's wrong about running and why you shouldn’t do it.  They like to share stories about runners who got hit by a car or injured themselves during training.  Or, they'll just go on and on about the many reasons why they hate to run.

I usually don’t waste too much time trying to sell running to these people because they always think they’re right and they won’t change their minds. Rather than waste my time listening to them explain why they hate running, I just nod my head or just make some comment like, “Running has been good to me so far!” and then quickly try to change the subject. Life’s too short to listen to people who criticize something you love!

2. Loved ones who worry about you. These people are usually genuinely concerned about your welfare.

They’re misinformed and think that running will lead to arthritis or other issues, or that you’ll keel over during a marathon. Because their intentions are good, I’ll briefly talk about the health benefits – both physical and mental – that I’ve experienced, and then reassure them that I’ve spoken to my doctor or read studies that have disputed their exact concern.

3. Jealous or insecure people. Sometimes the most difficult naysayers are those who are jealous or intimidated. They’re often people who are very close to you and worried that your relationship may change because of your running habit. One of the best ways to deal with them is to try to convince them to join you. Even if you can’t get them to start running, your enthusiasm may encourage them to exercise or find a new hobby that ignites their passion. You can find a way that you can exercise together, like you running while your friend or family member is biking.

Another good strategy is to spend some quality time with them so they are reassured that you’re not going to become so consumed with running that you neglect your friend and family members.

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