From coaches to running buddies to family, there can be an endless amount of people involved in a runner’s day-to-day training. So it might be difficult to ask for more help and support on race day, but it can be absolutely vital.
Only a select few special someones will be willing to stand for hours and spectate your race, but having people cheer you on can often make even the worst day seem worth it.
Here is how — and why — to build your support crew (and thank them once it’s all over).
THE IMPORTANCE OF A SUPPORT CREW
“Even though running is a solitary sport, it truly takes a large supporting cast to help you achieve your goals,” says Alex Morrow, certified running coach, personal and TRX-certified trainer who owns Resolute Running. “Having your friends and family on hand during your race not only provides motivation, but also accountability. It is hard to back off your goal when you know your friends and family are watching and waiting! In addition, your support crew is invaluable at the end of the race.”
It may sound like it can put an added amount of pressure on your race day performance to have friends and family out on course, but remember that they are there for you. Whether or not you hit a new personal best or have to change your race strategy and walk a few hills, your support crew is there for you. Should you not reach your goal, it can be good to have people at the finish line to cheer you up and remind you of all of the things you accomplished throughout your months of training.
“Runners tend to be so caught up in their thoughts,” add members of the House of Running, a welcoming running community based in Amsterdam that was started by Laurie Villarreal. “Knowing you have your own crew out there gives you something to look forward to at certain mile markers. There is also nothing like having the people you care about give you warm dry clothes and your favorite food and drink at the end of a big race.”
The first step before you even approach friends and family to ask for their support on course is getting together the information they will need, from the course map to road closures and more.
HOW TO ASK FOR HELP
You may feel like you are putting out friends and family by asking them to stand for hours to see you run by for just a few minutes. This is especially true if you are a runner who signs up for a lot of races. However, there are a few ways you can ask your support crew to come out and cheer for you (as well as hold your gear).
“To ask friends and family to come watch you run can seem like quite the imposition, especially on a chilly day,” acknowledges Morrow. “Instead of asking them to be there from start to finish, work out your goal pace and try to determine where you will be on the racecourse at certain times. For instance, if you are running a marathon and think it will take you four hours, encourage your family and friends to try and spot you at a predetermined location three hours in and then again at the finish line.”
Morrow shares that using this strategy, your friends and family only have to be out on course for about two hours versus four hours or longer. Even better, if they are there at the finish line, you can all head out for brunch afterward. Do they still need convincing? Well, chances are they will probably have more fun on the sidelines than you will battling it out on course. If they’ve never been to a race, tell them what it is all about.
“Let them know how much seeing them out there helps and then sell the atmosphere,” add House of Running members. “Whether it’s location, excitement of crowd, beer stands or funny signs, help them understand what to expect [from the experience]. Also, be sure to let them know how much even one spectator cheering your name or shouting your number is like a boost of energy.”
READ MORE > 6 SIGNS YOU LIVE FOR YOUR RUN CREW
Giving your friends and family specific tasks and explaining why each is important is also a great way to get them involved; let them know what a huge help they will be as they hand you a dry shirt at the finish. Tell them you know the course has a hard hill and seeing their sign is definitely going to be what helps you push through. Of course your training — both physical and mental — is vital on race day, but so is having some external motivation on course and at the finish line.
SHOWER YOUR CREW WITH APPRECIATION
After your race is over, you can either buy the first round of drinks for your crew at the post-race brunch or lunch, or take a few days to recover and then begin to say your thank yous.
“The day of the race, make sure to treat your crew to a celebratory beer or even dinner,” suggests Morrow. “Let them know how much you appreciate their friendship and support. Tag your crew in your race photos on social media and post thank yous. And, of course, return the favor. Your biggest fans are often inspired to run their own races and having you on the sidelines is the best thank you.”
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN