How to Support the Runners in Your Life

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Not everyone adores running with the same level of excitement. If you’re a friend or family member of an enthusiastic runner, you may wonder what’s the best way to be supportive when you don’t share the same passion for running. Even if you have no intention of signing up for a 26.2, there are endless ways to stay connected to your runner and help them feel understood and encouraged.

Home & Emotional Support

The most simple, inexpensive and thoughtful way to support a runner is to listen and ask questions. Runners like to talk about running. This becomes even more true when a goal race is approaching. Whether your runner is inexperienced or seasoned, an upcoming race can be a source of nervous excitement and anticipation.

When your loved one is training, there will be months filled with a combination of easy runs, workouts and long runs. Asking about daily runs may seem trivial, but most runners appreciate it. While knowing the details of every last split in a track workout may not seem like particularly exciting stuff, the fact that you remember to ask about it shows your genuine interest in something that’s important to them.

In addition to talking about running, eating is another favorite activity for runners. There’s nothing better than coming home to a favorite nutritious meal, so knowing what your runner loves to eat after a long run or race is another simple way to share your love and support.

Trying to understand the “why” behind a runner’s motivation to train and race can be a surefire way to learn more about your friend or spouse. Ask your runner questions beyond just basic race logistics like date, location and distance.

The “why” questions are far more meaningful, even when they’re challenging to answer. “Why did you start running? What made you pick that particular race? What do you hope to accomplish? What is the biggest challenge you’ll face? ” These are all good questions to help you understand why running holds a deeper value in their life.

Training Support

Although race day is the culmination of a runner’s training, the work is done in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Since runners tend to put a lot on their plate (and try to do everything well), this means that your friend or spouse may need just as much support and understanding during the training cycle as they do on race day.

Having an open line of communication is essential in a relationship, and for runners trying to plan a training schedule around work, family and social events it becomes even more important. Allow for some flexibility and understanding when discussing schedules and expectations.

If your runner is training for a marathon or an ultra, understand that long runs can take up a significant chunk of time on a weekend. Many runners will try to start their long runs early to be done in time for other functions, but know that this may also necessitate an earlier bedtime. If your friend or spouse doesn’t want to be night owl, it may be due to an effort to run early and spend more time together the next day.

Even if you don’t share any running time together, you may be able to bike alongside your runner, or offer to meet them partway through a long run at a designated location. There’s nothing better than seeing a loved one midway through a challenging run with some water or a dry shirt!

Race Day Support

Race day is always an exciting and nerve-wracking event for runners, especially if they are challenging themselves at a new distance. Whether it’s a 5k or a 50-miler, runners want everything to go smoothly and to accomplish their goals.

While you may not always be able to attend your loved one’s races, seeing your face at the start and finish can be a big motivator. If you aren’t able to make it to the race, a call or text can be a meaningful way to show that you understand the importance of race day.

If you’re able to attend the race, the best thing you can do is to be a second set of eyes, ears and arms for your runner:

  • Make sure they hear their alarm to get up on time.
  • Double and triple check that they have all their essential gear and fuel.
  • Help them get to the start line as early as they deem necessary.
  • Drive your runner to and from a race and carry their gear if needed.

No matter how little you know and understand about the world of running, you can always be a support system for friends and family who love to run. Your runner is sure to appreciate the love and kindness that you bring to their favorite endeavor.

Whether it’s achieving that next PR or nursing an injury back to health, our experts at AdventHealth Sports Med & Rehab are here to cheer you on. Learn more about our program and sports medicine specialties by visiting our website

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