By Christina | September 28, 2009
Training for a marathon is a little like losing weight. You think you are embarking on a private journey, but before you know it everybody in your circle of friends and family knows you are up to something newsworthy. I am one of those exercisers who does my own thing. If I were not teaching group exercise classes and training clients, I would be an anonymous exerciser. I train the way I feel like training and exercise at the times that are convenient for my schedule. I am not one of those exercisers that needs someone expecting me at the gym in order to exercise.
I am a private kind of runner too. I have a running partner, but I am not part of a large, organized running team all training together for running a marathon. I strive to run 3-4 times a week and vary my runs so I can be ready come race day. That said, the mere fact of me running has garnered a lot of bystander attention. “I saw you running.” “You’re always running.” “Why are you running.” “How far did you run?” And my personal favorite, “Why did I see you walking when you were supposed to be running?”
These inquiries are all meant as means of support, but have catapulted my private journey into a more public spotlight. It now seems that not only does everyone know I am running a marathon, but many people have now expressed interest in cheering me on come race day. Oy!
Now don’t get me wrong. I think it is wonderful that the streets of a marathon are peppered with cheering fans of all of the runners lending them support during their grueling race. I hear that the spectators are the main motivating factor to cross the finish line long after your body and your mind have given up. I am warmed by this notion as long as all of the cheering spectators are strangers to me. The idea of friends and family standing on the sidelines for the entire duration of the marathon to see my progress, or worse my failure to progress, makes me queasy.
I know I can’t stop people from attending so I have done the next best thing and comprised a list of requests for good behavior from my peeps which may be helpful with your peeps as well. First, I don’t need to be involved with any of the planning details on your end. Where you stand for best viewing, what you wear, and what you bring to the marathon are the least of my concerns come race day. I just want to cross the finish line alive. Your comfort level is not on my radar screen.
Second, leave the big signs and the rowdy cheering for others. It not only won’t motivate me, it will most likely irritate me. Something tells me I will have enough to be irritated by such as pain, extreme discomfort, and fatigue.
Third, be strategic in your yells. If I am only halfway done, please refrain from telling me I’m almost finished. Not helpful. If I am nearing the end and look like I want to die, less is more when it comes to cheering. “Looking great!” will probably not be as motivating as merely clapping! A little praying at that time probably would be a welcome addition.
Finally, as if I didn’t sound excited enough by your presence on the sidelines already, this marathon journey is really all about me. It is a personal goal and I am doing it to prove something to myself only. At the end of the race, the last thing I want to worry about is finding you. That said, if you succeed in finding me, don’t get me wrong, I will be the first to give you a smelly, sweaty hug and thank you for coming to cheer me on to victory!