With a Little Help From My Friends: Race Day Tips for a Runner’s Support System

TORONTO August 19th 2015. Digital Champion Mei Ling started running 4 years ago and completed her first 42.2k at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013! When she crossed the finish line, she felt like she could do anything and is excited to return to STWM this October. Mei loves the marathon because it is inclusive of all abilities (beginner to elite) and she loves that everyone has a different reason for running. When she’s not training, you can find Mei playing with her Chihuahua, planning her next meal, or researching her next big trip! Connect with Mei on Twitter and Instagram.

With a Little Help From My Friends: Race Day Tips for a Runner’s Support System. By Mei Ling. 

Marathon training is a big time commitment, not just for runners but for their families as well. While I’m out for hours on end running, my husband Dan is at home taking care of much of the day-to-day. Many of my running friends also have very supportive spouses, partners and family who make training possible by watching their kids, making dinner and more, while never complaining. Despite all of this, in the end, I’m the one who gets all of the accolades for completing a marathon. Marathon training is really a team effort, and we certainly couldn’t do it without our supporters.

In the last year and half, Dan and I have learned a lot about spectating at races and how to make the most of race day.  Here are three tips for making race day memorable, not just for you but for your spectators:

  1. Get to know the best places to spectate along the race route

When I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Mei Ling Blog 2Marathon in 2013, Dan let me know that he would be at the halfway point. Anyone who has ever run the full marathon at STWM will remember the moment when half marathoners turn to run towards the finish line and the full marathoners continue on to the second half of the course. It’s one of those moments when you can’t help but think “I should have run the half.” Knowing that Dan was going to be at the halfway point helped keep me going. It was exciting to see him there and definitely lifted my spirits. He, along with my sister-in-law, also cheered for me at the 36k and 40k marks, which helped make the kilometres leading up to those points bearable. When I was starting to hit the wall at 34k I kept thinking “Just get to 36k and you’ll see Dan!”

  1. Get excited about other runners

Spectating at a race is a lot of work. Imagine standing for hours on end, cheering for strangers and looking out for your loved one. Before race day, Dan and I usually research and learn about other runners who are participating. We like to find out which elites to watch for, who is trying to break a record, and about regular people who are doing extraordinary things on race day. After the race, Dan loves to tell me stories about the other finishers he saw. He recaps who held hands while crossing the finish line, how fast elites were running and how my running friends looked when they passed him. It’s fun to hear things from his perspective and get his recap after the race.

  1. Determine what you need to hear for motivationMei Ling Blog 3

Before running STWM in 2013 Dan asked me if there were any specific words of encouragement that I wanted to hear. He asked if I wanted a “Way to go” or “You can do it”, etc. I told him I wanted to hear “Don’t poop your pants.” While “Way to go” and “You can do it” are motivating, I knew that hearing him yell “Don’t poop your pants” would make me laugh and lift my spirits. It was also his way of saying “you can do it!” Hearing him yell helped me get through the wall and go for it.

To learn more about the best places for your loved ones to watch you race at STWM, visit their Spectators page.