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Turn Strangers Into Friends With 8 Great Questions From Harvard

“So, what do you do?” “Where do you live?” “How do you know [Name of Host]?” are some of my least favorite kind of questions, because they don’t elicit interesting answers.  If you want to get to know someone, you’ll have to do a lot better than this.

As a coach, I’m paid to ask provocative, probing, powerful questions and in social situations, I often wish strangers would ask some of me. Sadly, they don’t. Mainly because it’s considered rude. However, what I’ve found is that if you’re prepared to risk seeming rude by being the first to ask a provocative question, strangers are usually only too happy to follow suit.

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Helpfully, the Harvard Business Review has now published 8 great questions to ask at any kind of networking event. They’ve also written up their findings on how colleagues get on better, enjoy work more, and stay connected for longer if they share common experiences outside of work. Sociologists refer to these connections where there is an overlap of roles or affiliations from a different social context as multiplex ties.

So, next time you’re at a social function or networking event and you feel bored by small-talk but fearful of asking profound questions, you can dive right in, backed up by the knowledge that, far from being inappropriately nosy, you’re on the quest of making multiplex ties. What’s more, you’re endorsed by Harvard. Who knows, instead of simply adding a connection, you may actually make a new friend. And that, says the Harvard Business Review, is the whole point. “Research findings from the world of network science and psychology suggests that we tend to prefer and seek out relationships where there is more than one context for connecting with the other person.”

What excites you right now?  I love this question because the answer can be as intimate as you want to make it. You can share your excitement about your upcoming vacation, your boat, your son’s dance competition or your daughter’s soccer game Or you can talk about a book you’re reading or a profound experience you just had.

What are you looking forward to? Having things to look forward is what brings us joy in life See the article I wrote about the pleasure of planning for Forbes Whether it’s a planned vacation, something in your work-life or a personal milestone you choose to share in itself speaks volumes. Finding out about someone’s anticipated joy is a wonderful way to get to know them better. And if they say they are not looking forward to anything, you may want to take this as a cue to move on.

What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?  A wonderful, fresh, open-ended question, similar in some ways to the previous one, but instead of this being about anticipated joy, this question elicits remembered chapters. Sometimes, with the perspective of hindsight, the most difficult events offer the most growth and learning  So, losing my job or suffering an illness could end up having been the best thing that happened all year.

Where did you grow up?  This question reminds me of the usefulness of the pre-fix “I’m curious…” Essentially, this is asking a stranger to share their life story in as much or little detail as they’re willing. However, you could modify this to “I’m curious, WHEN do you think you grew up?”

What do you do for fun?  Unless you’re asking a painter, a poet, a singer a dancer or the odd entrepreneur, most people’s work is not what brings them the most fun. So, this question takes your interlocutor right onto the ski slopes, the golf course, the beaches or oceans where they have the best times.

Who is your favorite superhero? I’m sure that much insight could be gained by understanding the distinctions between a Batman lover and a Wonder Woman aficionado. However, I have a confession: I don’t have a favorite superhero, because I don’t watch superhero movies. To that end, you could, if you wish, modify it to, who is your favorite fictional character  Read my piece for Forbes on Crew mates

Is there a charitable cause you support?  You could tailor this to If you could pick one charitable cause to support, which one would it be? This is a question that will help you understand immediately what they care most about, what their values are. And you’re sure to have some shared affinities.

What’s the most important thing I should know about you? OK This is a big one, and not everyone will feel up to asking (or answering) it. As with all of the questions, the best place to start is with your own answer. If you feel stuck, don’t ask it. However, many people are longing to tell you that they have a hidden side (or hidden qualities) which their appearance or manner belies.

Since I started playing with these questions, I’ve met a Police Chief who told me her 9-year-old daughter frequently reduces her to tears;  a corporate raider who confessed that his favorite fictional character is Mowgli from The Jungle Book and a Catholic priest who does Zumba dancing for fun.  I’ve found I have surprising things in common with people who I’ve only just met.

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I coach leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace, and ease. I specialize in sectors fueled by innovation and creativity, including Arts and Culture, media, television, film, fashion and advertising. My clients include directors of national arts organizations, worldwide ad agencies and a wide range of entrepreneurs. Before training as a coach, I launched my first TV Production company out of my bedroom and sold it eight years later to the world’s largest production company. I have served the creative board of Endemol UK and later the board of ITV Studios where I was the director of Formats I have been a special advisor to TF1, France’s leading commercial broadcaster. I have led creative forums for Cap Gemini University in Les Fontaine and have worked with the London Business School on their programmer for Entrepreneurs. I have created, produced and sold dozens of the world’s most groundbreaking, successful reality TV shows. Often the TV shows I have produced have been about exploring the edges of society. I have twice been ranked in the top twenty most influential gay people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday and have been featured in the New York Times, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, Drum, Broadcast, The Hollywood Reporter, Monocle. I first certified first as a counselor (Institute of Counseling) then as a grief counselor before completing the core curriculum at Landmark Education and subsequently working intensely with three of the world’s pre-eminent leadership coaches. I am qualified as a co-active coach from CTI, the Coaches Training Institute, which is the world’s oldest coach training body.

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In this fascinating session from Summit LA18, famed relationship therapist and bestselling author Esther Perel digs into the three hidden dynamics governing every relationship, explores the self-imprisoning paradox of social media, and lays out why certainty is always the enemy of change. Interested in attending Summit events? Apply at summit.co/apply Connect with Summit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMGl… http://www.summit.co http://www.instagram.com/summit http://fb.com/summit https://twitter.com/summit

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Stop Thinking Quitting Is A Bad Thing

You have to stop thinking of quitting as a bad thing. You aren’t built to stay in the same place forever.

If your relationship or your career or your friendships have stopped challenging you, stopped encouraging your growth, stopped bringing you happiness, then you should move onto bigger and better things.

You don’t have to continue down the same path you started forging years ago. You’re allowed to diverge at any point. You’re allowed to decide it’s time to do something differently.

You have to remember that quitting isn’t always a negative. It doesn’t mean you’re taking a step back. It might mean you’re taking a step forward — or a step sideways.

You shouldn’t resist change simply because you’re scared of what the unknown might bring. You shouldn’t assume the best move is to continue chugging ahead, even though you’ve been miserable, even though you cannot picture things getting any better if they keep going the way they’ve been going.

Quitting is not always a sign of failure. Sometimes, it’s your best option. Sometimes, it’s going to lead to the best results.

If you’re in a toxic relationship, you shouldn’t waste your energy fighting for their love. You should call it quits. You should stop trying to make things work. You should stop giving them a million chances. You should stop assuming it’s better to stay together than it is to split apart.

It’s the same with your career. If you’re in a line of work that is draining you, that is making you miserable, that isn’t giving you any sort of satisfaction, then you should think about quitting. You should think about taking your talents elsewhere. You should think about whether there is somewhere else you could land that would make you feel more productive, more fulfilled, more appreciated.

Stop thinking of quitting as a bad thing because sometimes you have to walk away from your current situation. Sometimes you have to start from scratch. Sometimes you have to take a step back and realize that you’re heading in the wrong direction and need to regroup.

Even though it’s easier to repeat the routines you’ve already grown used to repeating, you have to remember you’re allowed to leave at any time. You don’t owe anyone anything.

It’s dangerous to stay in an uncomfortable situation out of obligation. You aren’t required to stay in a relationship because of your history. You aren’t required to stay at a job because of the hours you already put into it. You aren’t required to give anyone your time, your energy, or your effort — and you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.

You’re allowed to quit because you’re stressed about your current situation. You’re allowed to quit because you’ve grown bored. You’re allowed to quit because you believe another direction would grant you more peace and excitement and self-love. You’re allowed to quit if you want to quit.

You have to stop thinking of quitting as a bad thing. If it helps, call it moving on instead.

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By: Holly Riordan

 

 

 

Source: Stop Thinking Quitting Is A Bad Thing

Why You Should Stop Trying to Find Your Soulmate & What to Do Instead – Annabel Gutterman

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Hollywood, romance novels, picture-perfect depictions of relationships on social media: It’s all-too-easy to believe in soulmates. But while nearly two-thirds of American adults believe in them, according to a 2017 Monmouth University poll, psychology professor Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. says the term ‘soulmate’ can be dangerous. It can connote perfectionism — and perfection in relationships is essentially unattainable. “If you believe in soulmates, then you are less likely to work through [problems] because this person was supposed to be perfect and everything was supposed to be easy……..

Read more: http://time.com/5425170/stop-trying-to-find-soulmate/

 

 

 

 

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When You Are Unhappy In a Relationship, Why Do You Stay? The Answer May Surprise You – Samantha Joel

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Why do people stay in unsatisfying romantic relationships? A new study suggests it may be because they view leaving as bad for their partner. The study, being published in the November 2018 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, explored the possibility that people deciding whether to end a relationship consider not only their own desires but also how much they think their partner wants and needs the relationship to continue……

Read more: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-10-unhappy-relationship.html?utm_source=tabs&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=story-tabs

 

 

 

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Why Fluffer Friends Aren’t Good Friends — Success Inspirers’ World

Originally posted on Faithfully Falling Into Life: I have had many friendships throughout high school already. Some have stayed and are still alive. Some have withered away and no longer exist. Some are being revived because we have learned how to be honest. I have realized that the friendships that have lasted and kept strong…

via Why Fluffer Friends Aren’t Good Friends — Success Inspirers’ World

 

 

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Social Interaction Is Critical for Mental and Physical Health – Jane E. Brody

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Hurray for the HotBlack Coffee cafe in Toronto for declining to offer Wi-Fi to its customers. There are other such cafes, to be sure, including seven of the eight New York City locations of Café Grumpy. But it’s HotBlack’s reason for the electronic blackout that is cause for hosannas. As its president, Jimson Bienenstock, explained, his aim is to get customers to talk with one another instead of being buried in their portable devices.

“It’s about creating a social vibe,” he told a New York Times reporter. “We’re a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it’s just a commodity.” What a novel idea! Perhaps Mr. Bienenstock instinctively knows what medical science has been increasingly demonstrating for decades: Social interaction is a critically important contributor to good health and longevity.

Personally, I don’t need research-based evidence to appreciate the value of making and maintaining social connections. I experience it daily during my morning walk with up to three women, then before and after my swim in the locker room of the YMCA where the use of electronic devices is not allowed.

The locker room experience has been surprisingly rewarding. I’ve made many new friends with whom I can share both joys and sorrows. The women help me solve problems big and small, providing a sounding board, advice and counsel and often a hearty laugh that brightens my day.

And, as myriad studies have shown, they may also be helping to save my life. As the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”

In a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties,” John Robbins recounted in his marvelous book on health and longevity, “Healthy at 100.”

This major difference in survival occurred regardless of people’s age, gender, health practices or physical health status. In fact, the researchers found that “those with close social ties and unhealthful lifestyles (such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise) actually lived longer than those with poor social ties but more healthful living habits,” Mr. Robbins wrote. However, he quickly added, “Needless to say, people with both healthful lifestyles and close social ties lived the longest of all.”

In another study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1984, researchers at the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York found that among 2,320 men who had survived a heart attack, those with strong connections with other people had only a quarter the risk of death within the following three years as those who lacked social connectedness.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center also found that social ties can reduce deaths among people with serious medical conditions. Beverly H. Brummett and colleagues reported in 2001 that among adults with coronary artery disease, the mortality rate was 2.4 times higher among those who were socially isolated.

In a column I wrote in 2013 called “Shaking Off Loneliness,” I cited a review of research published in 1988 indicating that “social isolation is on a par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as a risk factor for illness and early death.”

People who are chronically lacking in social contacts are more likely to experience elevated levels of stress and inflammation. These, in turn, can undermine the well-being of nearly every bodily system, including the brain.

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Absent social interactions, blood flow to vital organs is likely to be reduced and immune function may be undermined. Even how genes are expressed can be adversely affected, impairing the body’s ability to turn off inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and even suicide attempts.

In a 2010 report in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez, sociology researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, cited “consistent and compelling evidence linking a low quantity or quality of social ties with a host of conditions,” including the development and worsening of cardiovascular disease, repeat heart attacks, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, cancer and slowed wound healing.

The Texas researchers pointed out that social interactions can enhance good health through a positive influence on people’s living habits. For example, if none of your friends smoke, you’ll be less likely to smoke. According to the researchers, the practice of health behaviors like getting regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet and avoiding smoking, excessive weight gain and abuse of alcohol and drugs “explains about 40 percent of premature mortality as well as substantial morbidity and disability in the United States.”

Lack of social interactions also damages mental health. The emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster “a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” the Texas researchers wrote.

Emma Seppala of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and author of the 2016 book “The Happiness Track,” wrote, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.

“In other words,” Dr. Seppala explained, “social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.”

She suggested that a societal decline in social connectedness may help to explain recent increases in reports of loneliness, isolation and alienation, and may be why loneliness has become a leading reason people seek psychological counseling. By 2004, she wrote, sociological research revealed that more than 25 percent of Americans had no one to confide in. They lacked a close friend with whom they felt comfortable sharing a personal problem.

For those seeking a health-promoting lifestyle, it’s not enough to focus on eating your veggies and getting regular exercise. Dr. Seppala advises: “Don’t forget to connect.”

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Sexually Active Older People More Likely To Have Better Memory, Study Finds – Sabrina Barr

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Sexually active people over the age of 50 are more likely to have a better memory, a study has claimed. Drawing pictures of past experiences and eating turmeric once a day have been said to have a beneficial impact on one’s cognitive abilities.

According to a recent study published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, engaging in regular sexual activity in middle age could also be linked to an improved memory.

Mark Allen, a lecturer in the school of psychology at the University of Wollongong in Australia, carried out research on 6,016 individuals, all of which were over the age of 50.

The data, which was collected by the English Longitudinal Study of Aging in 2012 and 2014, questioned 2,672 men and 3,344 women on a number of aspects of their lives including their health, diet and sexual activity.

The participants also completed an episodic memory test in 2012 and 2014, with Allen able to compare the results from both.

Allen came to the conclusion that while all of the adults across the board exhibited signs of memory loss, those in more sexual and intimate relationships were able to perform better at the memory tests.

This demonstrates that in the short term, frequent sex could have a positive effect on memory retention.

However, the notion that increased sexual activity can slow down the decline of memory in the long run was unfounded.

“These findings build on experimental research that has found sexual activity enhances episodic memory in non-human animals,” the study stated in conclusion.

“Further research using longer time frames and alternative measures of cognitive decline is recommended.”

In 2016, a study conducted by a team from McGill University in Canada claimed that women who have more sex have better memories.

The researchers found a correlation between the growth of the hippocampus, the area of the brain the controls emotions, memory and the nervous system, and sex.

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How To Get Over a Breakup, According to Science – Andrew Gregory

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The aftermath of a breakup can be devastating. Most people emerge from it intact, but research has shown that the end of a romantic relationship can lead to insomnia, intrusive thoughts and even reduced immune function. While in the throes of a breakup, even the most motivated people can have a difficult time determining how best to get on with their lives.

Now, in a small new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, researchers tested a variety of cognitive strategies and found one that worked the best for helping people get over a breakup.

The researchers gathered a group of 24 heartbroken people, ages 20-37, who had been in a long-term relationship for an average of 2.5 years. Some had been dumped, while others had ended their relationship, but all were upset about it—and most still loved their exes. In a series of prompts, they were coached using three cognitive strategies intended to help them move on.

The first strategy was to negatively reappraise their ex. The person was asked to mull over the unfavorable aspects of their lover, like a particularly annoying habit. By highlighting the ex’s negative traits, the idea goes, the blow will be softened.

In another prompt, called love reappraisal, people were told to read and believe statements of acceptance, like “It’s ok to love someone I’m not longer with.” Instead of fighting how they feel, they were told to accept their feelings of love as perfectly normal without judgment.

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The third strategy was distraction: to think about positive things unrelated to the ex, like a favorite food. Just as distracting oneself can help reduce cravings, it may also help a person overcome the persistent thoughts that come with a breakup.

A fourth prompt—the control condition—didn’t ask them to think about anything in particular. Next, the researchers showed everyone a photo of their ex—a realistic touch, since these often pop up in real life on social media. They measured the intensity of emotion in response to the photo using electrodes placed on the posterior of the scalp.

The EEG reading of the late positive potential (LPP) is a measure of not only emotion but motivated attention, or to what degree the person is captivated by the photo. In addition, the researchers measured how positive or negative the people felt and how much love they felt for the ex using a scale and questionnaire.

According to the EEG readings, all three strategies significantly decreased people’s emotional response to the photos relative to their responses in the control trials, which didn’t use prompts. However, only people who looked at their lover in a negative light also had a decrease in feelings of love toward their ex. But these people also reported being in a worse mood than when they started—suggesting that these negative thoughts, although helpful for moving on, may be distressing in the short term.

Distraction, on the other hand, made people feel better overall, but had no effect on how much they still loved their ex-partner. “Distraction is a form of avoidance, which has been shown to reduce the recovery from a breakup,” says study co-author Sandra Langeslag, director of the Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation Lab at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, so the strategy should be used sparingly to boost mood in the short term.

Love reappraisal showed no effect on either love or mood, but still dulled the emotional response to the photo. The authors classify love for another person as a learned motivation, similar to thirst or hunger, that pushes a person toward their partner in thought and in behavior.

That can in turn elicit different emotions based on the situation. When love is reciprocated, one can feel joy, or, in the case of a breakup, persistent love feelings are associated with sadness and difficulty recovering an independent sense of self.

Classifying love as a motivation is controversial in the field; other experts believe that love is an emotion, like anger, or a script, like riding a bike. However, the endurance of love feelings (which last much longer than a typical bout of anger or joy), the complexity of these feelings (both positive and negative) and the intensity of infatuation all signal a motivation, the authors write.

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To get over a breakup, heartbroken people change their way of thinking, which takes time. Just as it can be challenging to fight other motivations like food or drug cravings, “love regulation doesn’t work like an on/off switch,” Langeslag says. “To make a lasting change, you’ll probably have to regulate your love feelings regularly,” because the effects likely wear off after a short time.

Writing a list of as many negative things about your ex as you can think of once a day until you feel better may be effective, she says. Though this exercise tends to make people feel worse, Langeslag says that this effect goes away. Her past research found that negative reappraisal also decreased infatuation and attachment to the ex, so it will make you feel better in the long run, she says.

The findings are particularly relevant in the age of social media, when photos of exes, and the resulting pangs of love, may come up frequently. “All three strategies may make it easier for people to deal with encounters and reminders of the ex-partner in real-life and on social media,” Langeslag says.

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How To Get Your Mate Up Off The Couch & Running

Running is a great team sport.

Ever get asked by mates what the attraction to running is? Or maybe you’ve got a friend who’s shown interest in running and is ready to give it a try? As you know, starting isn’t easy, so here’s how to help them take their first steps, and stick with it.

Walk first

The saying goes that you must crawl before you walk. With running, you need to walk before you run.

 

 

While you may want to get your friend up and running, for a problem-free start they need to have spent at least two weeks walking, cycling or cross-training for around 30 minutes a few times a week. This helps to build aerobic fitness and strength.

Just because you can run non-stop for more than 30 minutes, doesn’t mean you should try to get your friend to do it. Get them to start running short bursts during their regular walks and gradually increase the time running so that it is double the time spent walking until they reach one hour of exercise.

Pick a program

Instead of winging it, pick an appropriate running program for your friend’s fitness goal. There are plenty of beginner programs designed to get anyone running five kilometres or 30 minutes.

The best ones maximise training results by running the right distance at the right pace on the right day; gradually increase anaerobic threshold with each run by matching running pace to current level; and set measurable goals. Some popular options are include My Asics, Nike+ Run Club, Couch to 5km app and Medibank’s 5km Training Guide.

Don’t ignore niggles

It’s normal to have some muscle soreness when people start running for the first time. Therefore, it’s not advisable to run on consecutive days. If your friend has pain that’s sharp or severe, or is being carried from one run into the next, encourage them to make an appointment with a qualified health practitioner such as a Sports Physiotherapist.

Get the gear

Running can be a very affordable sport and doesn’t require a lot of financial outlay. But a non-negotiable is a good pair of running shoes. Often newbies dust off their old runners that have seen better days

Be a good mate and take your friend shopping for a new pair of running kicks. Head to a shop that will analyse your friend’s running gait and help them to buy shoes that will support their new pursuit.

Break it up

Encourage your friend to take breaks. Once they’ve been running for a few weeks they might feel like ditching the walk breaks on their walk/run program. But it pays to take walking or drink breaks before they’re needed to prevent fatigue or going too hard too soon. Remind them that even endurance athletes take walk/run breaks.

Be there for the ups and downs

When starting something new, there are bound to be moments when things get hard. Maybe your friend has had a bad day, perhaps they’ve missed a training session or their last run felt horrible. We’ve all had those days, so be there for your mate. Share a story of your tough runs and remind them that it’s likely their next workout will be better than the last.

 

 

Introduce them to other runners

The running community is one of the best things about running so take time to introduce your friend to other runners who can motivate and encourage them to push on or keep them accountable if you’re not around. Be mindful that early on your friend may be self-conscious or intimidated by the thought of running with others. Make sure you choose a social running group like parkrun that welcomes runners of all abilities.

Be realistic

Don’t push your friend too hard. Let them gradually build their running fitness and encourage rest days. Most of all, don’t rush them as this can lead to momentum-crushing injuries. Use your slower recovery runs as a chance to join them for runs, and be patient. Remember that the goal is to help them transition to running, not hurt them.

Register for an event

Entering a running event together can be a great motivator. Seek out a five-kilometre fun run three months away from when your friend starts their training program. Choose a run with the help of runningcalendar.com.au.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

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