We All Need Somebody To Lean On

Supporters, what is it that they say; behind every great person there is a team waiting to take the credit? Honestly though, we all rely on a support network to help us with both our training and on race day.

Some of our supporters help us as training buddies (or as my daughter says “rumming bubbies”, which could be more fun) and motivators while running; I’ll call them your “On Trail Supporters”. There are others, generally non-runners, who while not out on the trail with you, are supporting you by filling a much different role; I’ll call them the “Off Trail Supporters”.

The On Trail Supporter can be thought of as a kindred spirit, someone that you compare your Strava times and courses, weird running injuries, weird running stories, and weird running foods such as maple bacon energy gel. These are the people that best understand why you run, as they share the same passion. For me, my main On Trail Supporters are Dale and Graham. These two buggers persuaded me to leave the road and to try the trails around home, and then to enter the Xterra series. Of course they run a lot quicker and further than I can, so it’s more like running at the same place at the same time than running together. Whenever we catch up the conversation inevitably turns to running at some point and how training is going, much to the dismay of our wives.

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In contrast, the Off Trail Supporter might not necessarily share the same enthusiasm and passion for trail running as you do. Now I’m not to saying that Off Trail Supporters dislike running and may in fact be a runners themselves. They are the ones who are more excited that you’re excited about your new PB, than the PB itself. I would guess that this supporter role, for most people, will be populated by husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and children. However, sometimes it might seem that they are also the ones that they are less that totally supportive and are holding you back to some point. I mean why wouldn’t they be happy for you to take off for hours of running and then sleep the rest of the day, or mind your stinky running gear everywhere, or to get up early to come to a race in the middle of nowhere only to see you when you start and then finish hours later?

It is very easy to take you Off Trail Supporters for granted or even become annoyed at them, but do so at your peril. I like to think of your Off Trail supporters as your running facilitator by affording you the time to go running by making the dinner, looking after the kids, making sure your gear is clean, and so on. They are also the ones that collect you from the other end of a trail or when you forgot to stop and are too rooted to make the return trip. On a race day they make sure you have everything you’ll need, then wish you well, hold your gear bag, and then welcome you back (with a beer, hint, hint). They are also the ones who somehow manage to take that photo of you in the most pain you’ve ever felt.

I would call myself very much a beginner runner, so any experiences or issues I have will pale in comparison to you serious boys and girls. I’ve seen the shirt and yes, your warm up is very likely my workout, but humour me.

My weekday runs are usually under an hour and over two on the weekends, and at times I find it real hard to get out the door and onto the trails. I’m lucky as I’ve yet to outgrow my local trail network, Eskdale bush, as it’s only a few hundred meters from my door. I am somewhat dreading the day when I need to add travel time and allow for longer runs (I don’t like doing laps). So I can only imagine having to fit 3 hour plus runs into limited spare time. Given how all-consuming some of my previous endeavours became and that I’m enjoying it (not always during however), there is the chance that this might become more than just a way to lose weight. I can see that I’m going to need to carefully balance commitments so my running doesn’t grow into something that my Off Trail supporters didn’t sign on for.

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Part of my Off Trail Support team

Upon further reflection I realize there is a third type of supporter, the “Keeping it Real Supporter” aka the “Shut Up About Your Damn Running Supporter”. These are your friends and family that are sick of hearing about your running. The ones that are out eating burgers and drinking while you’re in bed at 9 because it’s your long run tomorrow. The ones that ask why and tell you are nuts. To me this type of supporters is my grounding rod that stop me getting too single minded and to keep it real. When I first meet Dale and Graham I was this guy, they’d start going on about their runs and I’d roll my eyes and sigh. I mean how great could it be?

Like anything in life it is all about balance, be it work, family, friends and running. Enjoy your On Trail Supporters, embrace your Off Trails Supporters, and don’t neglect your Keeping it Real Supporters.

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