Out There: A Case Study In Converting Non-Runners

Or, how to get your boss to sign up for her first half marathon.

Written by: Susan Lacke

This column first appeared in the September issue of Competitor Magazine.

Chances are, there’s someone in your life you want to convert to the running lifestyle. After all, running is fun, and fun things are meant to be shared. However, getting a non-runner on board with your early-morning five-miler can be more challenging than, say, getting her to go out to happy hour.

The tactics employed by runners to convert non-runners vary. Some people coax gently. Others tout the benefits of health and happiness. Still others lead by example. Me? I’m a pain in the ass until that person gives in.

My editor, Somyr Perry, can vouch for this statement. She’s one of the coolest bosses a columnist could ask for—so cool, in fact, that I’ve been trying to get her to become my running buddy. But she hasn’t bit any line I’ve thrown out there—until now.

Here’s how I finally got my boss to sign up for her first half-marathon. All it takes is a little bit of gumption, a sparkly medal, some help from my other Competitor boss—editorial director TJ Murphy— and a whole lotta e-mails*:

June 23, 2011 7:30 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: Fun activity

Boss,

I’ve decided you should start running with me. It’ll be fun.

Love,
Your favorite Competitor columnist who is not Scott Jurek

June 23, 2011 8:32 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: Are you high?

Susan,

Excuse me while I wet my pants laughing.

Regards,
Somyr

June 24, 4:18 PM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry
FROM: Susan Lacke
Subject: No, really!

Seriously,

You are the editor of a running magazine. And you don’t run unless there’s a sale on chardonnay at Costco. This needs to change.

Besides, if you don’t run, what other hobbies are there?

XOXO,
Moi

June 24, 2011 9:45 PM
TO: Susan Lacke
FROM: Somyr McLean Perry
SUBJECT: How dare you?

Drinking wine is a perfectly respectable hobby, Lacke.
And no, I’m not running.

Don’t get fired,
Somyr

June 26, 2011 7:30 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: Lame…

You know, you used to be fun. Just think about it. You … me … and all sorts of half-marathon awesomeness. I promise we’ll drink wine afterwards. Maybe even during, if it’s the right race.

Stay tipsy,
Susan

June 26, 2011 9:51 AM
TO: Susan Lacke
FROM: Somyr McLean Perry
SUBJECT: Drop it.

No.

Now, let’s get some work done. For your next column, you mentioned an idea about telling stories about the finisher’s medals in races. That’s a good idea. You should run with that. There’s all sorts of cool medals. Did you see the super-cute Tinkerbell Half-Marathon medal?

Somyr

June 26, 2011  11:43 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: OOH!

You and I should run the Tinkerbell Half-Marathon. Then we can both get a super-cute medal.

Just sayin’,
Susan

June 28, 2011 9:45 PM
TO: Susan Lacke
FROM: Somyr McLean Perry
SUBJECT: You really ARE high!

Sister, I haven’t run a straight mile in years. I wouldn’t know what to do with 13.1 miles. I’d be one of those run-for-a-minute-then-walk-for-10 people.
I told TJ Murphy, and he practically fell out of his chair at the prospect of me running anywhere. But he wants me to start running so badly he said he’d run the Tink with us. HA!

You people are crazy,
Somyr

June 29, 2011, 6:58 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry, TJ Murphy
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: Yes!

I’m bringing him into this discussion. 
TJ, I think we need to force Somyr to do this race with us.

Sayonara,
Susan

June 29, 2011, 9:00 AM
TO: Susan Lacke, Somyr McLean Perry
FROM: TJ Murphy
SUBJECT: I like bling-bling.

I’ve already decided I’m going to do it. I want that medal.

Tinkerbell is my idol,
TJ

June 29, 2011, 9:03 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry, TJ Murphy
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: It’s a go.

Then it’s settled. Somyr, you’re running a half-marathon. 
And then we will all get schnockered, Disney-style.

XXXO,
Susan

June 29, 2011, 9:05 AM
TO: Susan Lacke, TJ Murphy
FROM: Somyr McLean Perry
SUBJECT: Huh?

OMG.
Sigh.
OK, then.
Wait.
How did this happen?
I’m not a very good runner.
I guess I can do it.
I’ll probably walk the whole way.
I do like the medal.
Wait.
Susan, how did this get started?
My stream of consciousness is freaking out.
My girlfriends will freak when they find out.
My husband won’t believe me.
My parents won’t believe me.
My sister will laugh.
Sigh.

FINE, I’ll do it.
Somyr

June 29, 2011, 11:10 AM
TO: Somyr McLean Perry, TJ Murphy
FROM: Susan Lacke
SUBJECT: YES!

Mission accomplished.

Salut,
Honey Badger

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