Do you remember when you started running?  Did someone you know get you into it?  Chances are, the answer is “yes.”  Chances are you got someone into running too.  I call it “Running It Forward.”

I blame and thank my brother, Tom, for getting me into the sport as a teenager.  I was going into high school, and since my dreams of becoming a Major League Baseball player had been crushed by a three-error inning over the summer, I needed something else to do.   My brother was a senior on the Cross Country team, so, as the younger one who mimicked everything he did, I became a runner.  I am not sure I would have considered running otherwise.

I ended up running every season in high school (twelve if you want the count).   I “paid” or “ran” it forward by influencing my younger cousin to pick up running too.   I call it “Running it Forward” because you are passing something good on to somebody else: the interest in running.

My 20s were essentially “run-free.”  I only ran partially through college because I discovered other things, such as female students and kegs.   That was it, until about age 30, a time in which I was going through a divorce and needed something that would be less expensive than therapy.   Running again seemed to make sense.  At first, it was casual.  A slow jog here and there, then a 5K or two.

It wasn’t until I was a spectator at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2000 that I decided to go “all in” as a runner again.  I witnessed my friend, Bob, run and finish it.  I knew then that I would run the same race the following year.

So, as an adult, I blame and thank Bob for rekindling my interest in running.   He “Ran It Forward” by getting me into it again.

Soon after witnessing Bob’s race, I met my current wife.  Jill was into fitness but never ran a road race in her life.  She was a spectator for my first marathon in Philadelphia, and she was amazed at the number of people running 26.2 miles.  Jill couldn’t imagine running that far.  She recently qualified for the Boston Marathon.   I got to “Run It Forward” by influencing her to pick up running and racing.

Jill has, in turn, gotten two friends into marathons.  In 2006, she helped her friend Kim complete the Marine Corps Marathon.   This sparked Kim’s husband’s interest in running a marathon, and he and I did the same race in 2007.

In 2008, I got my friend Jeff to complete his first marathon, and he has in turn gotten his girlfriend and one of his friends into the sport too.

You get the point?   Most of us have been influenced or inspired by someone to pick up running.   Furthermore, each of us has influenced or inspired another to run as well.

In 2009, I got to repay my brother by issuing a challenge:  Disney Marathon 2010.   He hadn’t run much since high school, and I figured he would say “no.”  He surprised me by saying “yes.”  So, it sort of came full circle, or maybe I “Ran It Backward” in getting him back into it.   My cousin and wife joined us in Disney, and we all continue to run.

(Pluto is my favorite Disney character)

I even keep a “Running It Forward Chart.”   It is organic and growing.  I bet you can come up with your own, similar chart.   It is fun.   Give it a try.

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