“Together, everyone achieves more.”
Running is, for the most part, a solo sport/activity. It’s up to each individual runner to stick to goals, get in the miles, and run his or her best race on event day.
One of the reasons I enjoy running is because of this solo aspect. I enjoy the “me” time of my runs and if I succeed or fail at my goal on race day, it’s on me.
As a goal-oriented achiever, I love the sole credit I can take for a job well done.
As someone who’s all about taking personal responsibility for what happens in life, I love the sole blame I take when I come up short.
But, recently, it occurred to me how much runners actually depend on others to achieve their goals. I’m not referring to school-age or professional runners who compete in relays, that sort of thing, I mean the average adult who chooses to run, for their health, weight management, or for the joy of race days.
Support in Training
When I was training for Grandma’s Marathon, my first full marathon since having my son a year earlier, I was nervous as to how I was going to fit in all the runs, while still taking care of my family. Turns out, I needed help from others to achieve this goal.
First and foremost, my husband had to be supportive. And I don’t mean he had to “watch” Abel so I could run. Abel’s his son, that’s just him being a parent. He had to be willing to adjust his workout schedule and time to help me accommodate runs. Even if I got up at 4 a.m. to do every run before the day begun, I still had to rely on my husband to be home to watch Abel on the monitor in case something happened.
I also needed my family to be supportive. My in-laws and my parents stepped in to babysit Abel when Chris was gone or our schedules otherwise didn’t work out to .
My work family was also supportive, particularly my boss at the time. He was more than understanding of my request for added flexibility to extend beyond the typical reasons to leave early like appointments and include running.
Then there’s the emotional side of support. My husband, family, and work all supported the emotional needs I had as a runner. This is also where my friends stepped in the most.
Of course I couldn’t leave out my friends; they were also super supportive. A few of us were training for various races at the same time and would frequently check in and share our ups and downs. We were each other’s biggest cheerleaders up to and on race day.
Support on Race Day
Speaking of race day, there’s another supportive group of people in the running community that exist for the sole purpose of helping others achieve their goals: pacers.
A recent poll of my runners of Instagram and Twitter showed a majority of runners don’t run with pace groups – makes sense. But people don’t have to run in pace groups to benefit. There are reasons to run with a pacer and reasons not to. I’ve had plenty of people tell me they’ve pushed themselves to catch up with me in that last mile of the race – and I love it when they pass me before the finish line.
I love being a pacer. It doesn’t get much better than knowing you helped a fellow runner achieve his or her goal on race day or just made their experience better by being there. The hugs and high-fives, the thank-yous and smiles, plus, the sheer fun of participating in lots of races – it’s a pretty great gig.
No, I’m not only giving the shoutout to pacers because I am one. It’s because I really have seen, heard, and experienced the impact they have on runners, ever since my first time running as a pacer.
It’s true that no one achieves anything alone. And as much as running is an individual sport, others are needed for every runner to accomplish goals.
Runners or those who support runners – do you agree? What other examples do you have for runners being supported in different ways?