We talk a lot to the athletes in this blog. But what about the people who motivate them to put one foot in front of the other? We're looking at you, spectators. Not that you aren't athletes. Many of you probably are. And, like us, at one time or another you've found yourself in a position of supporting someone you care about: Your parents, a sibling, a good friend or a significant other. But one does not simply "be" a spectator. There are rules. There are tricks. There are tips. There is tried and true advice.
As they say: If you don't know, now you know.
How To Be A Good Spectator
1. Make Time for Arts and Crafts
Meaning: Make a sign! A little personalized love for all to see is one of the greatest motivators. Doesn't have to be fancy. A simple "We're proud of you _______!" is all it takes for a runner to go from dragging their feet to lifting their knees again. This will also make it easy for your athlete to pot you in the crowd. Especially if there aren't many points on the course you can feasibly get to, you don't want the opportunity to go to waste! The longer the course, the more your racer (and all the other racers) will appreciate you breaking up the monotony with a clever sign or two. Google "Spectator Race Signs." Trust us, you'll be inspired AND get a good laugh.
Thanks to Active for sharing this hilarious image!
2. Have a Game Plan
"I'll be at the beginning, middle, and end" does not count. Map out the course beforehand. Choose street corners, landmarks, and mile markers where your athlete should expect to see you. Many races these days have a Spectator Plan on their website~ utilize it! Our tip? Avoid setting up shop by an aid station. No need to distract your athlete while they're going for some much needed hydration (cough cough, INVIGORADE) and trust us, those little cups go flying out of racers hands and the last place you want them to end up is in your hair. Or splashed on your camera.
3. Never Say:
"Just around the corner!"
"You'll be done before you know it!"
"You have X miles to go!"
These phrases set racers up for disappointment. "Just around the corner" for you may mean 5 grueling miles of hills for them, so unless you know the course inside out or are at a mile marker, don't mess with the athlete's heads.
4. Tech exists. Use it.
So many races these days come with their own tracking app. Simply download it to your phone or have the website ready to go beforehand, know your racers bib number/name, and boom: You can track your racer's every move and even take split times for them!
5. YOU are the aid station
Yes we know, aid stations are scattered throughout the course. But what if your racer needs a new hair tie? A band aid? An extra sip of INVIGORADE because that dang water in those little cups just didn't do the trick? Be ready to yell, encourage, high five, swap clothes, handle water bottles, distribute gels . . . all within 15 seconds or less. Yes, it'll be hectic. But by the end of race day, "The Juggler" will be your middle name.
Like we said, you've probably been a racer, a spectator, or both. What are the best tips you have for each other? Share them in the comments below!
Now get out there and encourage your athlete to #KeepItUp!
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