No matter the distance to be covered, race day is a big deal for a runner. It’s the culmination of weeks or months of preparation, psyching one’s self up, highs and lows, strategic workouts, a couple freak-outs, random bouts of excitement, and immeasurable anticipation. And person(s) who support a runner play a pivotal role on race day. You can’t run the race for your runner, but you can sure help in making their big day go smoother.
Set Your Alarm
Odds are, your runner will have set several alarms to ensure they are up on time. But to be safe, ask your runner when they need to be up, and if you don’t hear them bumping around by that time, swoop in and wake them. It’s the one time you’ll be lauded as a hero instead of getting a pillow thrown at your head. There’s nothing worse on race day than getting a late start.
Make Sure They Eat
Before and after their race. If it’s a shorter distance race, they may not eat before (although we do always recommend it), but offer to prepare breakfast. There’s a good chance they’ll want to do it themselves to ensure everything remains exactly the same as on training days, but if they are okay with you preparing their extremely difficult peanut butter toast or oatmeal and pealing their banana, that opens up a few more minutes for them to dress or…use the bathroom.
Show Up for the Race
Unless it’s a runner’s first race, it’s not as vital that you be there at the starting line. They will have nerves, excitement, and hundreds (or thousands) of other runners to keep them company and pump them up for the feat at hand. Seeing you on the sidelines on the course, however, is invaluable. Few things will help pull a runner out of a funk, or just put a bigger smile on their face than seeing YOU screaming for them. If you can’t make it to various points along the race, at least be at the finish line. The finish line is where all the emotions of the race culminate, and it is important to have someone there to share that with and help the runner move forward (physically and mentally) as the race’s climax suddenly breaks.
If your runner wears a hydration pack or uses a handheld water bottle, fill it for them and triple check to ensure it not only gets into the car, but all the way to the starting line with them. After the race, place a cup of water in your runner’s hand as soon as they can stand up straight. Do not take them home until they have drunk it.
Race days are a big deal for runners. Most of them will want to talk your ear off about it afterward—and by that we really mean analyze every minute detail about what helped or hindered their performance, the countless things they need to do differently next time, and eventually declare what their race will be. All you have to do is nod, smile, and encourage them to keep chasing their dream.
By: Audra Rundle