Way to Cheer

A 10k is a long enough race that you have some time to think. So while I was running my last 10k, I noted some things.

The main thing is that I appreciate good spectators. Whether it’s a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or full marathon, it’s nice to have people cheering.

What prompted this was the spectator who yelled “Run faster!” to me.

I assume she meant well and wasn’t trying to taunt me. But her words were less than encouraging. So here are my thoughts on how to cheer for a runner.

Tips on Cheering

  • Don’t offer advice.

    Telling me how to run doesn’t help. Unless we have both agreed that you’re my coach, do not critique me.

    “Run faster” and “Go pass that guy” fall into this category.

  • Do give information.

    If I were a more serious runner, I would have a fancy watch that tells me my time and my pace and my splits. But I don’t have that, so I appreciate people who yell out split times at the mile markers.

    “Stay to the left on the trail” and “Watch out for the [insert hazard here] at the next block” also fall into this category.

  • Do give generic platitudes.

    As a general spectator at a race in your community, you don’t know me. And I know that you don’t know me. But there are some who make the extra effort. At my 10k the local football team had some responsibilities on the course, and they were very good at looking at bib numbers and cheering specifically for people by their numbers.

    “Looking good” and “Nice shoes” also fall into this category.
    I don’t know that “good job” falls into this category, since you don’t know my goal for the race so you can’t know how well (or poorly) I’m doing.
    “Yea” should work though, and “Go team” might make me smile.

Those apply to general spectators – how to cheer for people you don’t know. If you do know me, then cheer however you feel you should.

Other Notes from the Race

  • Best Local Resident

    The person who set up a hose and sprinkler so that it sprays part of the road. Runners who want to can keep right and get a refreshing splash of water; runners who are not so inclined can keep left and avoid it.

  • Worst Part of the Race

    The finish was awful. The last half mile or so was slightly uphill and directly facing the setting sun.

    If you’re planning a race, the finish should be flat or slightly downhill and the runners should be able to see.

  • Worst Feeling in the Race

    At the start of the race, I heard all the beeps of chips crossing the timing mat. As soon as I crossed the starting line, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I did not remember tying any chip to my shoe.

    Then I looked at my bib and remembered that the chip is built into the bib and there wasn’t supposed to be anything on my shoe, so I was fine. But I was about to panic.

  • Start in the Middle of the Pack

    That way you get to pass people during the race. I find that better motivation than starting near the front and being passed throughout the race.

    Don’t go too far though – starting at the back of the pack means that you spend too much time dodging people.

  • Last Note from the Race

    Halfway through the 10k, just after the 5k runners finished but the 10k-ers continued, I was about 20 yards behind a guy. He looked pretty slow – I thought maybe he had gone out too fast for the first half and was dying now (figuratively speaking).

    I figured I would pass him and then concentrate on passing the next guy. After a couple of blocks, I realized that I wasn’t getting any closer to the slow-looking guy.

    Then I realized what that meant – “Do I look that slow too? I bet I do.” I never see how I look when I run, but that guy was at a slow jog. “Surely I’m not like that.” But I was, at least until that point. I made an effort to lengthen my strides slightly, and I passed him a couple of blocks later.

    I’m sure there’s some life application to be made here, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

I’m sure that was an exciting post for you non-runners. And if you thought this post was boring, try watching a half-marathon.

What’s the best amusing generic phrase to yell to cheer on a runner?

Mine is “Defense!”

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.

Isaiah 35:3

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This little article thingy was written by Some Guy sometime around 6:20 am and has been carefully placed in the Sports category.

6 Responses to “Way to Cheer”

  1. phoebe Says:

    What I hate to hear is, “You’re almost there!” Unless I am steps from the finish line, I am not almost there.

    At our last race, I had run 7-1/2 miles out of 8. At that point, a spectator yelled, “One more mile to go!” Seriously? Way to be the opposite of encouraging.

  2. Ricky Anderson Says:

    I have never watched a race nor have I ever competed in one.

    I would probably yell, “You’re doing great, SG – nice shoes!”

    Then I would go wait for you at the bar.

    You running types impress me.

  3. Some Guy Says:

    Phoebe, I agree with you on “You’re almost there!” If I can’t see the finish line then it’s probably wrong.

    Ricky, you might have more fun yelling to the other runners – “Some Guy is running with you!” or “Have you seen Some Guy’s shoes?”

    For the record: my shoes are unremarkable.

  4. Burrill Says:

    Based on my years of experience with high school football crowds, I’d probably yell “Hit somebody!” I know it has no relevance to a race and could even result in chaos, but that’s my favorite sports crowd aphorism.

    And then I’d be waiting at the bar with Ricky, drinking Coke and yelling “Hit somebody!” at the tv.

  5. Some Guy Says:

    “You call that a tackle? He ran right past you untouched!”

  6. Caitlin Says:

    I am a distance swimmer and my daddy’s favorite thing to cheer during my super-long races (I did a 4k this summer) is DEFENSE! Sometimes my coach shouts “Be agressive,” which has always puzzled me in the non-open water swims.
    I’m really dissapointed that you have unremarkable shoes, by the way.

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