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All runners know and loathe the “You’re almost there!” cheer, but what you say to a passing racer could make a big difference in their performance. Think about how much the right phrase at the right moment in a race can change your perspective and make a huge difference–even if only for a mile or two. There is a reason hilarious signs at races get so much press: humor is badly needed in running!
To determine how helpful a spectator you can be, consider these three categories of sideline cheerleaders to determine which you most identify with and how to fine-tune your role on the big day.
The Motivational Cheerleader
Probably more than 75 percent of people on the sidelines of a race fall into this category, and most shout the first encouraging words or phrases that come to mind:
- “Great job!”
- “Keep it up!”
- “Looking good!”
No matter how poor a job we’re actually doing, how badly we want to stop or how terrible we look, we love you for these words.
The Human Signpost
Basically just stand there with your hilarious sign. No further encouragement is needed, but a thumbs up goes a long way.
Some of the best signs I’ve seen on the run lately:
- “This isn’t like a book club book – you have to finish it!”
- “You run marathons, I watch them on Netflix.”
- “Where is everyone going?”
The Sideline Coach
If you have the right tone, you can pull this one off nicely and it will be appreciated. After several miles of battling your mind and body, a runner’s form can sometimes fall by the wayside. Even if you don’t know what some of these mean, they will most likely be applicable anywhere after the halfway mark of a race:
- “Keep your cadence quick! Use your arms to pump you up the hill!”
- “You’re already (or more than) halfway there, stay focused to the finish!”
- “Remember all those hard training runs you did to get here. This is the payoff!”
- “Nice pace! Stay strong!”
No matter what you say on the sidelines (as long as it’s appropriate and positive), I think we can speak for all runners when we say, Thank you for your support!