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Why having a support system matters.

Setting a goal and committing to a big event (either a race or personal journey) takes courage. Having a strong support system can make all the difference in achieving your goals.

What does support look like?

Support can include family and friends. Do you have someone that encourages you and values how important achieving your goal is? When choosing a race or event to train for, taking into consideration the effect it will have on family and personal life is important. If you have a family that relies on you during certain hours of the week, will you need to adjust your runs to fit that schedule, or will they be able to flex to make it work? Do you have someone that encourages you to get out of the door and onto your run even when you don’t feel like it?

My husband giving me a pep talk and a hug before starting Shakori 40 Miler in 2020- I ended up placing 3rd Female.

I have trained athletes that have given up on their goal, due to lack of support in the past. Having conversations with those close to us about how important it is for us to dedicate time can help them understand our “why”. One way to help them understand is to involve them in the process. This can look like a friend riding their bike while you log long miles or having a partner that makes you a healthy dinner full of protein and carbs when you get back! Include your partner or kids on some of the easy workouts and show them how fun it can be do them together! Talk to your support system about how your training is going and help them stay invested in your why. For my ultra-friends, be sure to reciprocate and thank those who crew us and help our families function when we are running for whole days at a time!

What happens, if you do not have support?

Trust me, I have been there in the past. When I first started running, I was in a stage of change in life---I had just moved back home and graduated graduate school. I had yet to make friends in the local running community and the only ones that I had were the ones I had known from school and work. Some friends took it personally when I could no longer stay out late on a Friday due to having a long run the next morning. My lifestyle changed and as a result so did my support system.

Some people will try to insult or crack jokes about your newfound love or running or commitment to being healthy. I have literally had co-workers make insulting jokes about my healthy meals at lunch! Just remember, sometimes when other’s see us dedicate so much time to our goals, they may feel resentful or jealous that they are not achieving theirs or don’t know how to get started. Do not take it personally, they are just in a different stage of change and may be projecting their personal fears or feelings onto you!

If you do not have a support system through family and friends, consider joining a local running group! This will allow you to meet others who can train with you and encourage you! It also helps to have others to hold you accountable for those big workouts when you do them together! I started running ultras after joining a local trail running group and I never turned back. Some of my best lifelong friends came from long hours in the woods together being lost and out of water! There is something to say about shared suffering (now I am going into my Marine Corps Veteran mindset) and how it brings us closer to our fellow humans.

Helping change my friend Carrie's shoes halfway through her 100 Miler at Arkansas Traveller in 2019. She won the women's race that year!

I’m curious, what does your support system consist of? Mine includes a spouse that shares the workload while I train and vice versa. We rotate days for our long endurance miles (he is a cyclist) and we have group meetups on different days so that we get some social interaction with other adults outside of being parents. We also order meal prep from a local health food shop on our super busy weeks to reduce our workload so we can focus on training- the shop is a part of our support system! I have friends and co-workers who run with me, and I make sure to share my goals, achievements, and failures with them! I surround myself with people who are just as happy about my successes as I am theirs and we encourage one another!

Recent group run, with GRIT athlete Amy and our friend Claudia.

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Gary Hughes
Gary Hughes
Mar 16, 2022

Great article Cassie!

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