This was the question posed by one of my sisters some time ago, when we had lunch together. At that time, I had just started running for a couple of months but got instantly hooked by it. My reply to her, was that it was fun and that she should try it. She still couldn't understand why I was so excited by it, that I would go to bed early on a Saturday night only to wake up again at 4:30AM. 4:30AM on a Sunday (and to do this not just once but every time there is a race)! Much earlier than waking up on a work day, and for what? To Run? At that time, I knew she was probably thinking how weird I was or that I just didn't have anything better to do on a weekend.
So how do I go about telling her how fun it is to run a 15k, a 10K, or a 5K race with hundreds, nay, thousands of other people and get an exhilarating feeling once you cross the finish line? How do I go about convincing someone who doesn't really wake up this early and would prefer to stay in bed and sleep it off? There really is no other way, but to tell her to just try it once. Just once and if you don't like it, then that's fine. You don't have to do it anymore.
Still unconvinced, she asked if I was aiming for first or at the worst, third place in this race. With this goal, at least the benefits of winning the cash prize is more than the sacrifice of waking up early. Ummmm, nope, I'm actually lucky if I finish at the top half of runners who completed the race, which depending on size of race, can range between 80th to 350th place. She gave me another odd look. Yes, no way of explaining to her the excitement of being at the starting line, all ready to go and just waiting for the Go Signal from the race organizer to start running. No way to explain that even though there were some (make that a lot of) runs, where I feel like I was on the verge of collapsing and my heart would just jump off my chest and fall right in front of me, I still enjoy it and come back again and again. No way of explaining why I torture myself to run in the dark or in the rain just to finish a race. Whatever I say, it still wouldn't convince her because she does not do it. The only way to do so was to keep on pushing her to just try it once and maybe, just maybe, that would help her get the answers she needed (or maybe it won't, but at least she won't be curious anymore).
Well, she did try it, joining the PSE Bull Run with her husband and some cousins. Safety in numbers I guess.
That was a couple of months ago. Since then, she had bought two running shoes at New Balance, a pair of sunglasses, running shorts, running cap, running socks, an IPOD shuffle, a water belt (actually given to her), Nike+ Sportsband, shoe wallet, and even booked her first half marathon for Nike Women's Run this October (I am also guilty as charged for my own things).
Her husband, having started at the same race as she did, had also bought his own two pairs of running shoes, IPOD shuffle, Nike+ sportsband, shoe wallet, socks, and other things. Since then, they have included their two kids in the short races, invited their own friends and family (among them my eldest sister and her entire family too) for subsequent races and even organized a mini-race (as blogged by Janine+: http://pacecreative.blogspot.com/2008/07/mockathlon.html)
Some of my friends have also gone into running. My girlfriend enjoyed it too, with her own transition from a race spectator, to a 5K runner and now a 10K runner, and even my parents tried the Pringles 4.8KM run a couple of months ago.
This entire thing reminded me of the movie "Pay It Forward" only instead of applying it to good deeds (which is also great by the way), you apply it to running. You tell your friends you run. You tell them you have to go home early/ you can't drink/ you can't eat this food because there is a race the next day. And if they ask you, "What's so Fun about Running?", you challenge them and say
"Why don't you try it? Just this once."
KEEP ON RUNNING!!