How to Support Your Runner: A How-to Guide for Friends and Family

The most common statement I hear from people that learn I am participating in the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is "That's so awesome that you are running that whole thing by yourself!". Any runner will tell you that no race is ever run alone. It takes the unwavering support of our friends and family to make the road to the finish line possible. Often people in a runner's life struggle to find ways to support their runner as they go through their training so today I offer some suggestions on how you can be the best support system for the runner in your life.

Embrace the Race

You don't have to be a runner to understand the commitment it takes to train for a race. Think about something you really wanted. Perhaps it was a job you had your eye on or a project that was demanding on both your time and energy. That feeling, the nervous butterflies you get as you prepare for that goal, can often be overwhelming. That is the same feeling that a runner gets when they register for a race that they know will be challenging for them. It is both exhilarating and terrifying all at once. If you have a runner in your life know that this is never just another race. Each one brings with it a unique set of circumstances that may prove difficult on your runner.

Know This.....We Track EVERYTHING!

One thing I get picked on for is how often I post about my fitness activities. Often runners do this not to be show offs but rather to track what they have done as they train. There is a certain accountability that comes with posting on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter the training that we accomplished that day. It is out there for everyone to see. No one can change it (for better or worse) and on some level it makes us even more driven to stick to whatever training system we are on. It acts as a tick mark on a long list of to-do items that runners have while gearing up for a big race. If you see us post on social media that we accomplished another training run or any other workout take a moment to click "like" or better yet take it a step further and share it. Every little bit of encouragement goes a long way to helping us stay motivated.

Bring On the Music

For some of us, music is the life force behind every workout. It helps us pace ourselves, or it can embolden us to run harder, or find the strength to do one more set. Runners can sometimes be pretty picky about what they listen to but we never turn down an offer to help us find some new music to add to our playlists. So, create one for your runner! Whether you create it on one of the many platforms out there or simply type a list of some suggestions it will not go unappreciated. I am always looking to add songs to my playlist that I use at the gym or while running.

"Feed Me Seymore!"

As we train runners each have different ways to fuel and hydrate. We also have some clear favorites in this area. For our friends and family it can be rather annoying to deal with at times. We have our preferred brands of gels, bars, & tablets and none of it is really what anyone would call inexpensive. Yet, no matter how you might feel about this topic please know that it is necessary. These sources of fuel can often make or break a race for us and if we get dehydrated it can be a serious health hazard. One suggestion I can make to you is to learn what types of fueling and hydration your runner uses and why. Then secretly pick up some of these items for them. I would be ecstatic if my favorites mysteriously showed up at my doorstep.

Patience is Key

Training is a huge demand on our time and we will feel some measure of guilt for not having that time to spend with you. As we balance our work, home and training lives it can be stressful to make it all mesh together. Some days, it just won't work at all and we will get massively frustrated at our perceived inability to keep it all together. Be patient with us as we go through these moments. We will figure it all out with a little help from you. Help us strategize and plan if you can. You don't have to be a runner to have the critical time management skills that may help us plan things out better. Or, if all else fails,  just listen to us as we go through these times because we may just need to get that frustration out so we can move past it.

Time Away from Training to Have FUN!

Demand We Take Some Time Out for FUN

Even though we have some hefty demands on our time while training it is just as equally important for us to kick back and relax. I don’t just mean taking a day off training with a rest day (which is important too). Rather, the need we have to connect with the people that matter to us. We often need someone to remind us of the fun things we can do outside of training. Suggest we watch a movie together or go out to dinner. As crucial as it is for us to train well it is just as vital that we give our minds a break and have some fun too.

Show us some LOVE

Even if you cannot make it to race day in Pittsburgh, PA and be there as we cross that finish line, you can still cheer us on with texts and posts on social media the week of the race. We are going to be excited, nervous and maybe a little scared of what might happen. Let us know you are right there with us. Every comment and message of encouragement is going to be there in our minds as we have those inevitable moments of panic and doubt during the race. 


It will all come down to this, all the planning and preparation will soon be over and that beautiful, shiny medal will be around our necks. You helped us get to the start line and we will surely be thinking of you and your support of us with every step we take towards the finish. I can say that on behalf of every runner participating in the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon we are so very grateful to have every one of you in our corner. Thank you for being there for us and with us all along the way.

Want to join in on the fun? Use my coupon code (ZEHNERDSGPM18) which is good for $10 off your registration for the full, half or relay events. Act fast though! This code expires on March 31, 2018!


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