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Peer support is a powerful influence, especially when it comes to health. Studies show that maintaining motivation and consistency is easier if your buddies also value healthy activities and lifestyles.
Jim Cooper, Bryan Kroeker, and Jeff Wallin all farm in western Nebraska, but that’s not all they have in common.
They’re also runners. Cooper and Kroeker farm near Grant; Wallin farms in nearby Imperial. The three don’t work out together, but they often see each other at local running events.
“It’s a huge advantage to have a training partner,” says Jonathan Beverly, an Imperial, Nebraska, runner and editor of Running Times. “It helps immensely to have somebody who shares your interest and who can encourage you.”
Beverly has been running for 30 years and is well known at marathon events. He met Cooper while teaching a running class that Cooper attended. Beverly also helps to coach local high school cross country and track teams.
Beverly knows that running isn’t for everyone. “But running as an exercise for a farmer makes a lot of sense,” he says. “Every Labor Day my community has an auction and there are 20 types of exercise equipment for sale that people bought, and never used. If you run, you don’t need equipment or an expensive gym membership to get a good workout.”
Where does a farmer find an exercise buddy? Beverly says you don’t have to look too far. “For the past 33 years, Chase County Fair has sponsored a 5K, 10K, and 1-mile run,” he says. “Grant has had a Fourth of July run for eight years. Almost any community in the U.S. today sponsors a fun run, and you’ll see people you know who participate and would welcome a training partner. Training for one of these runs gives you a reason to get started exercising and an end goal.”
Motivation is key
Wallin began running several years ago to stay in shape. During hectic planting and harvest seasons, he often can run only later at night.
Kroeker found that running helped him to recover his strength and endurance after a life-threatening brush with West Nile virus in 2007.
Cooper wanted to get back in shape after an ATV incident. “I don’t talk about running unless people ask,” he says. “Usually I get the comment it’s bad for your knees. What was really bad for my knees was being 30 pounds overweight.”
Don’t overlook your spouse as an exercise buddy. Lynda Cooper and Pat Kroeker are also runners.
“Even if you only work out together once a week, it keeps you accountable,” Beverly says. “Someone knows your goals, and time passes more quickly.”
Finally, a training partner also helps to absorb the occasional neighborly ribbing.
“Farmers respect toughness,” Beverly says. “Underneath the jokes often is a respect for the discipline of running.”