If you’re reading this, chances are you have a runner in your life that you want to support as best you can. Maybe you’re not a runner and you want to get to know your runner better. Maybe you live with a runner and you want to empathize with the bad times and celebrate the good like you actually know what’s bad or good. Maybe all of the above.
Your runner will probably have a big race coming up at some point. You may have noticed your runner can become meticulous about controlling everything about their environment as the event approaches. Optimizing sleep and recovery, hydration and fueling habits become the center of their lives, sometimes to a fault. That’s where you come in. You can counteract what you might classify as “madness” with kindness. Gestures and words go a long way.
If your runner runs in the morning, try having breakfast started or ready upon their return. Many runners don’t eat immediately after a long run, but they need to do so within about 30 minutes or so. Studies indicate that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise.
Similarly, if your runner prefers running in the evenings, get started on dinner while they’re gone. Committing to training means committing to sacrifice. You can help make it seem less of a burden with something you’re probably going to do anyway.
If your runner can’t stomach solid food immediately after a long run, try chocolate milk. It has the right amount of protein and carbs and also contains B vitamins, making it a great recovery drink. And pretty darn refreshing after a long run.
Does your runner need you to keep some snacks, drinks or in-case-of-emergency items on hand? It’s always a good idea to ask. And you don’t have to do too much math calculating your runner’s pace; many races have a variety of services to help spectators follow their runners. See if the race’s website offers a signup for a runner tracking system, which can send alerts to your cell phone. Also, If your runner is carrying his or her smartphone, there are apps such as Find My Friend that can help you track them.
Signs and snacks
Awesome signs can be uplifting, especially during those later miles in the race. Get a group together and get creative making personalized signs to help get your runner over a hump or two. Keep in mind humor goes a long way in these situations. Dress in bright colors and be loud. It might surprise you how much energy the runners draw from the crowd.
Sure, there are official race photos that can be purchased, but runner’s logic chimes in to remind your runner that the money could go toward their next entry fee. Get as many pics as you can, even if your runner is a little camera shy, these are memories they’ll cherish.
Nerves are usually highest in the days leading up to the big event. Depending on the chosen race, transportation can be confusing and cause additional anxiety. Offering to handle transportation to and from the event is like a weight lifted off your runner’s chest. Now, they can better focus on what’s important.
Whether your runner is a seasoned vet or a newbie, a great post-race gift idea (if you’re into that sort of thing) is a massage. Post-race massages promote healing by helping to circulate the blood and flush out the metabolic waste that builds up after a marathon, creating sore and tender muscles. This can make it easier to stretch and get back to light physical activity in the weeks after a marathon.
Props on social media never hurt either. Many runners run for a cause and the more opportunities for them to share their message the better!