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

by Karen Zehner
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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 you are running that whole thing by yourself!" But 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, runner's loved ones struggle to find ways to support their runner as they go through the training period, so today, I offer some suggestions on how you can be the best support system for the runner in your life.

Know That We Will Track EVERYTHING!
One thing I get picked on for is how often I post about my fitness activities. Runners like me 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 what we accomplished that day on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter; it is out there for everyone to see. So 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 in helping us stay motivated.

Bring on the Music
For some of us, music is the life force behind every workout. It helps us to pace ourselves, can embolden us to run harder or give us 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 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. 

"Feed Me, Seymore!"
As we train, runners each have different ways to fuel and hydrate; we also have some clear favorites in this area. We have our preferred brands of gels, bars, & tablets and none of it is really what anyone would call inexpensive. 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 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 spending that time with you. It can be stressful to try to balance our work, home and training. 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. You don't have to be a runner to have the critical time management skills that may help us plan things out better. And if all else fails, just listen to us as we go through these times because we may just need to vent so we can move past it.

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 from training with a rest day. Rather, we have to take time out 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, suggesting 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 the LOVE
Even if you cannot make it to race day in Pittsburgh 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 even a little scared of what might happen. So 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.

The BIG FINISH
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 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.

Karen is one of our 2018 #10YearsRunning Official Bloggers. You can follow along as she trains for her first ever DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on her blog Run With K.
Karen Zehner
2018 Official Blogger

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