Random thought 02: Why don’t the runners and joggers come walking with us instead?

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2012/11/18 by grahamfawcett2012

Walking for good health and discovery!

The question is always asked “Why don’t the runners and joggers come walking with us instead?” Why us, indeed? Well, for things like: walking, the most natural form of exercise we can do; joining a club with a much stronger social component; doing something less injurious than pounding hard surfaces while jogging; paying a lot less for greater enjoyment; etc. It seems so illogical, doesn’t it?

The fundamental differences between most joggers, especially the ones we see running in groups, and walkers are (1) the competitive nature of the activity, and (2) the lack of a requirement to become engaged to the same degree.

Most joggers, both individually and collectively, have set a goal for themselves. The goal can be measured in distance covered, time taken, number of events, and so on. They are competing against themselves, others, the clock or some other pre-determined objective. This is also why joggers tend to be much younger than the walkers we see. The cardio-vascular benefit of jogging is probably greater, but so is the risk of damage to the body. Walkers, on the other hand, choose to be non-competitive and are satisfied with simple recognition for distance covered or participation over time, but with similar benefit.

Even the notion of engagement is different between joggers and organized walkers. Yes, we do see joggers running in groups, and sometimes in the same pub after their runs. But I suspect that joggers don’t have the same time to engage socially with people during their activity as we do during ours. We can talk without the same effort, we can move about within the group more easily, and I suspect we have a greater chance of making new friends among our group than they in theirs. But the biggest difference, I think, is in the level of engagement required to keep the activity going. Most jogging groups in my area are organized by sporting goods stores. People pay to learn how to jog, pay for branded clothing, pay large fees to participate in competitive events and so on. Their activity is based almost exclusively on a fee-for-service. They may socialize afterwards, but they probably don’t expect anything more than what they have paid for.

Organized walkers, however, pay a minimal fee, and are expected to volunteer their time and talent to maintain the activity. For that reason, our walking is more personal due to the individual engagement required. It should be taken for granted that all club members will be asked to ‘pitch in’ several times during the year. In practice, it should not be an option. Ours is not a fee-for-service activity.

Conclusion? It would be a waste of time and effort to try to divert joggers to walking. That time would be better spent in supporting our own groups and seeking alliances with other volunteer organizations that need our help to organize quality walking events. Their members are our potential future members. My father-in-law is a leader within the Rotary organization in his community. With help, he organized two hugely successful walks throughout the community that drew more than 550 participants to an event that had never been held before. People who want to walk are out there, we just have to make them aware of our expertise and give them the opportunity to keep walking with our organization. So let’s look for the service clubs, the church groups, the Chambers of Commerce, the myriad of waking groups on Meetup.com, the recreation centres, the YMCA / YWCAs, and even the schools where we may offer our own experience and enthusiasm to gain future members. To be most efficient, look for those places and activities where there are already established groups with common interest. Tap into the networks your own members are already members of.

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