The Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Your Favorite Runner

Do you have a friend or loved one who has the courage to call him- or herself a runner? If you are lucky enough to have people in your life with the determination and confidence to tell the world they are runners, we want to share with you some ways to encourage and inspire them, as well as a few ways you may unknowingly be ‘ruffling their tail feathers.’ Below is a list of things NOT to say to the runner in your life, and some words of encouragement that their hard work deserves instead!

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DON’T

Did you walk at all? – Running is hard work and walking is totally acceptable in any race you may compete in. It doesn’t affect whether or not we finish.

DO

The weather was [cold, hot, windy] today; were you feeling good? – Conditions can make a dramatic difference in a runner’s race plan, so can how they slept or felt physically on race day. Acknowledging these hurdles shows a lot of understanding and support.

DON’T

Did you win? – We run to finish. Most of us are not professional runners.

DO

I’m so proud of you for finishing! – Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and to finish is to win; you could say, “That took a lot of courage and determination and I’m proud of you!”

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DON’T

Running is hard on your body. – You know your body better than anyone else, and we know our own just the same.

DO

Wow, I’m so impressed with your commitment to fitness! – Whether running a race, preparing with daily training sessions, or taking a cross training approach, anyone who signs up for an organized event has worked hard to get where they are.

DON’T

I could never run a marathon. – Anyone can run a marathon if they try. With some training. We promise. In a world of naysayers, at least be an encourager.

DO

You just ran a marathon! – It also goes for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, etc. The point is, whatever your favorite runner trained for and competed in, they spent time and effort to do it. The focus should be on their accomplishment.

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DON’T

Can’t you skip your run today? – Running is part of who we are. It’s part of our sleeping, breathing, and basic functioning. It is a part of who all runners are, so no, we cannot and will not skip our run today.

DO

You are so dedicated, or How can I help you fit in your run? – Depending on how well you know the runner, you may be able to help them stay on track by relieving them of a small responsibility that might make their running schedule difficult to maintain. Don’t know them well enough to help? Then just encourage or work around their training schedule because you know it’s important to them.

DON’T

You don’t look like a runner. – If you run, you are a runner. No body type, dress code, or age required.

DO

You look like a runner! – Runners come in ALL shapes, sizes, and ages, and run all different speeds as well as distances. We don’t want to look at the differences but the similarities; they all trained hard and stepped out of their comfort zone to make it to race day.

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DON’T

You’re running on the wrong side of the road. – Runner’s etiquette says to run on the left side of the road, so we are able to see and avoid traffic if necessary. We also tend to avoid sidewalks, because they are generally made of concrete and the asphalt of the road is much easier on our joints while we are ‘pounding pavement.’

DO

I found you a great new trail! – The monotony of training for a race can lead to a great deal of boredom on those daily runs. A new trail, course, or scenery can be a real pick-me-up to a runner. So keep your eyes open for a path, trail, or not-so-busy road you might suggest.

DON’T

Wow! You sure can eat! – Food is fuel and that’s how we have the ability to go as far as we do. A good long run will stir up a bout of hunger in a hurry!

DO

You earned a good meal, let’s go out, or can I cook you something? – Encourage and support the refueling of a runner, especially as they get closer to a long-distance race. Even runners feel bad about eating sometimes and need to be reminded of the ‘food is fuel’ fact.

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DON’T

So, you’re a jogger then? – For many of us running is about the passion and love we have for the activity. No matter how fast or slow we are going, we are lapping everyone that is still sitting on the couch. Just because their pace may be slower, never, never call someone a jogger. It’s demeaning to the effort and hard work they have put into this great sport.

DO

How was your run? – Training for a race is hard work, and it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and sacrifice that many will never understand. Runners in training love to talk, and sometimes even need to talk about their most recent run, so take a minute to listen; it means a lot.

DON’T

Running sucks. – Sometimes yes, even we think it sucks, but most of the time we love every calorie-burning minute of it. And that is why we get back out there day after day.

DO

You are inspiring! – Pushing oneself to a goal is not easy, especially a physically demanding one like running. It also takes a mental toughness that not everyone is ready to exert.

Encouragement from those around runners can be what gets us over a slump in training, or keeps us going on miles 11 and 18 come race day. You are an important part of the mix – any runner you know will benefit from your support; it’s one of the pieces we appreciate and need most when we feel negative. Do you love a runner or want to support some great ones? Come out to the Grand Forks Marathon and cheer on the athletes September 23rd and 24th, or if you’re feeling crazy, why not be a runner and sign up for one of the races yourself or with a relay team!

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