Seven running-related ways to show that Kindness is Dope

Vanessa and Stefanie take a photo smiling and wearing sunglasses.
Stefanie, right, and I pose in our sunglasses after I gave her the Knockaround Fast Lanes as part of the Kindness is Dope III campaign.

Disclaimer: I received the Knockaround Kindness is Dope III set of sunglasses to review (and give away) as part of being a BibRave Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Ambassador, and check out to review, find and write race reviews!

Kindness doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to really make a difference in someone’s day. Here are seven running-related ways to show that Kindness is Dope.

Give away a pair of Knockaround sunglasses. For this campaign, I was sent the Kindness is Dope III set of sunglasses — one pair of Mai Tais and one pair of Fast Lanes. One pair was to keep, and one was to give away. I already had a pair of Fast Lanes that were my go-to pair, so I decided to keep the Mai Tais and give away the Fast Lanes. (Read my review of the Fast Lanes here — I got them in 2019 and they are still going strong.)

I go to Chesterfield Heirlooms, a family farm stand, most weeks to get fresh produce and other items, and I decided to stop in to buy some food and give the Fast Lanes to Stefanie. She loved them! I’ve never done something quite like this before, and it was fun to see her reaction. It made me feel like I’d chosen the right person for this gift.

If you would like to buy the Kindness is Dope III set of sunglasses and surprise a friend — or even a stranger! — visit the Knockaround website. A set is $50, and shipping is free for orders over $40. The sunglasses each come with a carrying pouch that says “Be Kind.”

How is this related to running? Knockaround sunglasses, including the Mai Tais, are great for running — and everyday wear. They have polarized lenses and stay on well, even with sweat, and they are also stylish. Knockaround sunglasses are affordable, yet durable. And of course, they help block the sun!

Two pairs of sunglasses, each on top of a blue tie-dye pouch that says "Be Kind."
The Kindness is Dope III pack comes with a pair of Fast Lanes, left, and a pair of Mai Tais, right. They each come with a “Be Kind” pouch.

Stay with a slower friend. One way to show kindness in running is something that I try to embody through the Eastern Shore Running Club. At the group runs, particularly if a runner is new to the group, I stay with the person at the slowest pace. Sometimes, this is my pace. Other times, I have slowed down to run with someone else. I would hate for someone to come to their first group run and feel like they had nobody to run with. Running with a slower friend can help motivate and encourage a new runner or someone who has been intimidated to come to a group run.

Support a new runner. In addition to staying with a friend who is at a slower pace, you can also support new runners in other ways. Suggest local running groups and routes, share info about the must-have gear, teach the running lingo (“PRs” and “fartleks,” for example) and give kudos on Strava.

Vanessa standing in an orange visor, sunglasses, Eastern Shore Running Club singlet and dark shorts in the Salisbury City Park.
Making the Eastern Shore Running Club welcoming to all paces is important to me.

Pace a race. If you’re an experienced runner and want to help others, you can sign up to be a pacer. I am a pacer for Beast Pacing, and I have paced 12 half marathons, some with Beast and some at the Island to Island Half Marathon in Ocean City. It’s a rewarding experience, and you get to be part of helping other runners reach their goals, while serving as an enthusiastic motivator.

Volunteer at a race. I enjoy volunteering at races, because I get to support an event while also having fun and enjoying the race atmosphere. I wore my Kindness is Dope III sunglasses to volunteer at the Salisbury Circuit Race this month. Since I participate in running-only races, volunteering at this bike race and at IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman last month were great opportunities to get involved.

Cheer on race participants. Of course, you can cheer people on as you volunteer — I always do — but you can also cheer for a friend or hundreds of strangers as a spectator. This is something I have not done much of aside from while volunteering, but I always love reading the fun signs during races, and I really appreciate everyone who comes out to cheer the runners on (and stays till the later part of the pack, where I am).

Be kind to yourself. Running in the summer can be brutal. Be kind to yourself as you tackle the heat and humidity. Don’t feel bad about yourself if a normally-easy pace seems tough. Give yourself permission to take as many walk breaks as you need.

Vanessa Junkin poses in a sunglasses, a light blue shirt and dark orange shorts, while holding a walkie talkie outside.
Here I am wearing my Mai Tais while volunteering at the Salisbury Circuit Race.

I highlighted different ways to show kindness on social media as part of this campaign, and I made an effort to really think about kindness this month, thanks to Knockaround. Salisbury, Maryland, where I live, is also the United States’ first World Kindness City. What’s your favorite way to spread kindness?

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