Friday, July 31, 2009

Spectatorship For Dummies

Dear seemingly innocent spectators,

It has come to my attention, throughout the past several years of my racing experiences, that although sometimes your choice of encouraging words is impeccable, at other times, it is down right deplorable. Near the end of a 5k in which every muscle in my body feels dead, each sweet breath I take can barely sustain me, and I am suffering in every meaning of the word, the absolute last thing I want to hear is, "ONLY A HALF A MILE LEFT!" I'll have you know that after having traveled on foot at around 6:00/mile (10 mph) for 2.6 miles, I have to dig deep to continue this pace or faster for 0.5 mile. Therefore, all this particular individual has alerted me of is the fact that the hardest part of the race is ahead. The average Joe may think, It's only half-a-mile! At the end of a race, it is an endless, beyond strenuous half-a-mile that can only be described as hell on Earth. If such words have ever been issued from your mouth, and you're wondering what would've been a better choice of words, it's perfect timing seeing as I am about to tell you just that.

Discouraging Phrases That Guarantee an Instant Spot on a Runner's Hit-List:
  1. The aforementioned "You only have so-and-so-distance left!" or "You're almost to the finish!" I've noticed different spectators have widely varying ideas on what it means to be almost-to-the-finish.
  2. "Go faster!"
  3. (Directed at a fellow competitor) "C'mon, beat him/her! You can take 'em!"*
    *Note: If I hear this phrase, you will, without a doubt, undergo the wrath of my death stare.
  4. "Looking good!" (No, I am running my guts out. I had better not look good. In fact, I had better be the epitomy of unattractiveness.)

Make-Over Time...

  1. "Dig deep, you can do it!"
  2. "Great pace, crank it out!" or, in the final stretch, "Kick it! Kick it!"
  3. There simply is no made-over version of the third statement. Just don't go there.
  4. If you know their name, "Go so-and-so!" If not, you can use something on their shirt to define them. For example, if the runner has on a Minnesota Gophers t-shirt, it would be appropriate to say, "Go Minnesota!" Unless they are unaware dressers or their mom still picks out their attire, they should know you're referring to them in your encouragement.
And lastly, there's always the tried-and-true "WHOOOO!" or loud whistle that can get a runner's spirits and adrenaline up. The louder and more excited the crowd, the easier it is to lose oneself in the noise and truly gut it out.

Not only do the runners in the race need to concentrate on their difficult task at hand, but the spectators must also do the same. Word choice, although subtle, can make a big difference in the largely mental aspect of racing. One should say it like they mean it and be sure to belt it out if they have any chance in being heard amongst the boisterous clamor of a mob-like crowd. Be careful in what you say because, although imperceptible to the orator, it can have an impact on the runner's performance. Make it a positive impact and help them on their way to a PR.

The Breadcrumb Runner


  1. oh man this is so true. i haaate "only x miles left!" it's really enjoyable when the spectators don't seem to know how far they are from the finish, and you find out you have longer to go than they said.

  2. yeah yeah! a new post :) and I must awesome one at that! and veryyyy true haha im running in a 10 miler next week (its 7 miles on the beach) im sure at mile 8 the people on the beach will be screaming "only 2 left to go!" - oh? only 2? is that it? haha

  3. What's wrong with a mother still choosing their child's apparel, hmmm? My the individual needs a little color matching mama to intervene with their horrendous clothing choices.
    & I like it when people say I look good, nobody else in my life says that to me. WAH!

  4. Lol. I like the #4 statement that's in need of a makeover. Looking good... Doubt it! I've heard the you're almost there at the end of a long race. I'd rather not hear it because sometimes they lie! I'll figure out when I'm close to the end and when I need to kick it in the final stretch. Although I made that mistake in my last race and sprinted at what I thought was the finish. Turned out to be a bunch of stereos piled on top of each other. Imagine my surprise. Lol!

  5. I'm a big fan of the "go Indiana!" myself since I usually wear something with my alma mater on it. This is PumpkinFace, by the way. Nice blog!

  6. oh I hope you haven't stopped posting, I really like your blog!