Passion to Profession

As I was formulating and collecting my thoughts for this post I realized it is mainly two concepts that could be divided into multiple posts, but I decided to try and articulate my thoughts together. And hopefully I can receive some feedback to help answer and/or find a creative way to make something happen from these two concepts.

I have been thinking for some time now and asking myself these questions but have never openly shared my thoughts in a conversation until today. Once the conversation ended, my mind continued running on its own.

I stayed the night at a family of friend’s house. The husband/father, Norb, of the household is a farely new running budding of mine and we have developed a solid bond lately. Him and his family helped out at my attempt at the Bighorn 100 and will help me out in my redemption 100 coming up soon.

I woke up this morning and made my way upstairs to the dining room table and joined one of his daughters. She was on the computer working on getting things ready for graduate school that she begins in a month. I grabbed an issue of Trail Runner Magazine out of the bathroom to read at the table.

After flipping a couple of pages, Norb came upstairs. And as he did I read a little blurb on a guy that we met just before the start of Bighorn. The guy, 21, biked from Vermont and arrived in Wyoming a few days before the race and then ran the 100 mile race.

With excitement I shared this with Norb and this is when the discussion began and my thought began to whirl on these ideas…

“Did he do that for anything?” Norb asked.

I knew what the question had meant. After Norb fell in love with trail running he decided that he was going to run 100 ultras before he turns 100 years old. And for each race that he does he donates $100 to the Alzheimer’s Association. He just ran the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler for his 21st ultra. (Check out Norb’s blog here)

“It doesn’t say.” I said.

“I feel like if you’re gonna do something like that you should do it for something.” He said.

“I actually want to bike across the country too and for me it’s because I really want to do something like that. But I see what you mean.”

“Well yeah, one reason why I do ultras is to help people out and it’s another thing that keeps me going.”

This is when I brought up that I have been wanting to do something similar with my running and doing it for a cause. But I feel bad just thinking about asking people for money.

When I did my second half marathon, I raised money for Paul Newman’s organization for children with life threatening diseases to go to summer camp. I felt a little uncomfortable asking people multiple times for donations and that has been what’s held me back from doing it again.

So I told him that I have been trying to think of a unique way but I haven’t thought of anything of how I could use my running to help out in some way other than just raising money because it seems like that is the only way people are doing it these days. Not that is a bad thing at all but for me to alleviate that feeling of guilt, I believe I need a more different and creative approach.

But that idea hasn’t hit me yet!

Running and really all athletic pursuits are extremely selfish. While satisfying your individual happiness you are completely removing yourself from family, friends, your community and society as a whole.

While you are completely enveloped in your own world you could be helping out the world and others in this world.

Some ideas popped in my head as the conversation flowed to something else. Would selling bracelets be a different approach for me to raising money similar to the Livestrong foundation? Or selling running branded apparel with proceeds going to a certain organization?

But then I was thinking about how I literally have no money beyond food and rent that I wouldn’t be able to start such a thing as those ideas. Which left me back as square one of trying to think of ideas.

How can I combine running and also help out a cause, without blasting social media with a link to donate? And that’s what I have been thinking a lot about lately…

Which brings me to another, somewhat similar concept and that is how do you turn your passion into a profession? And for me that is running.

Of all the things that I can think about, athletic passions are the only things that are difficult to build a life on.

If you’re passionate about playing an instrument, you can play at a venue for money. If you’re passionate about making clay pottery, you could sell your creations. If you’re passionate about photography, you could sell your prints. If you’re passionate about cars, you could open your own mechanic shop. And the list goes on.

But when you are passionate about a sport, you can’t just sell yourself because there is no product or service to provide. There is no other way than going professional in some sports or getting sponsored in others.

And I do get it, sports do not provide a benefit to an outsider other than entertainment value. That’s why professional football players are rewarded with such enormous contracts. And when it comes to running, it provides an even less entertainment value.

How does one take running and turn it into a profession? I am constantly asking myself this.

And for the very few times I have asked others on how to get sponsored or have read articles online on how to get sponsored, they all have mentioned one commonality. And that is, that it is not all about winning races.

That tends to make me feel better about my chances. So then if it’s not about winning, then how can you turn your passion for running into a profession?

Or is just pure running not enough to support oneself financially and is that something that I flat out need to accept?

What I mean by that is, will I need to do something connected to running? Like coach or race direct or work in a running store?

Is my dream day of running all just a dream, unless I get fully sponsored?

Is there a way to actually combine these two concepts?

I know in a way there has been no overall point to this post other than me writing out my thoughts on how I want to combine running and helping out a cause and how I want to run to the point where I could do what I love for a living. Maybe I’m thinking out loud for ideas to come my way from other people and other runners.

Hopefully some day I’ll have brilliant ideas that will come to fruition. Until then I’ll keep running and dreaming

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