Why Runners Need a Multi-Faceted Support System

Though running is very much a solo endeavor, your support system can’t be overlooked. Even if you have a running partner, there might be more people in your support network that you need to include.

Why is support important? If you’re training for a race, there may be times where you’re tired, in pain, unmotivated, or feel bored. Having people that can help you get through these moments is critical. Likewise, it’s important to have people around you to celebrate with when you hit important milestones, goals, and finish your races.

What kind of support do you need? Each of us has different needs, so the kind of support we need will vary. However, we likely have physical support needs and emotional support needs, and we will need people to help us meet them.

Think for a moment about the kind of support that is important to you when it comes to running and ask yourself if you have support in these areas.

Who is in your physical support system? As a runner, there is a lot that goes into running and preparing for races in a physically healthy way. You may not have all the knowledge and experience needed to help yourself train and prepare, so including people in your physical support system is critical.

For example:
• If you’re new to races or to a longer distance, you might need the support of a coach or trainer.
• Runners dealing with injuries may need the support of a physical therapist or doctor.
• If you’re struggling with energy for your runs, a nutritionist may be in your support team.

These types of individuals support your training and health from a physical perspective and are important for runners, regardless of level. If you don’t have these people in your support system and feel they would be useful, reach out to other runners to find out who they trust to fill these roles.

Who is in your emotional support system? As important as our physical needs are, we can’t overlook getting emotional support. The people who fill your emotional support system may be your training partners or the people in your running club, but could also be your family members and even people you don’t physically see.

Each person approaches running differently, and even if you’re a person who prefers to run solo, chances are, you’d benefit from having people emotionally support you, even if they don’t ever see you run.

For example:
• Many of us need a cheerleader: someone who can encourage us when we’re feeling low motivation or for those last few miles. Your cheerleader may be someone you text with, or someone who shows up on race day. Maybe you need both.
• We often need someone to talk to. Positive support is great, but running isn’t all flat ground and great weather. Being able to vent about your running frustrations is important in moving past those times, and having at least one person in your support system who you can talk to is important.
• Support during our activities is important too. Having someone else with us when we train can increase our enjoyment and create a positive distraction from those tough moments (as well as someone to help push you when needed). Even if no one in your family or social circle enjoys running, consider inviting your spouse or kids to ride their bike while you run, look to join a running club, or do your cross-training with a friend.

When it comes to your running, at least some support is probably helpful. Take the time to think about what type of support you would ideally like to have, consider if those needs are being met and if not, consider who you have in your circle (or who you need to find), to meet your support needs.

Though running can happen without anyone else involved, you may be surprised about how your experience changes positively when you have a full support system.



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