There’s a fine line between cheering and jeering. It’s a line that somebody who has struggled with their fitness all their life is well aware of; in many ways is hyper-conscious of. It’s the point at which you look up in hope that actually, maybe somebody may be encouraging you and then notice that they are laughing at you. It’s a painful line and over time you become used to always being jeered and never getting cheered.
A Cheer First Timer
I was cheered on my first night out with our running group when I was far and away the last person back to our meeting point. There was at least 10 people standing around talking and now I know they were waiting for me. They saw me come around the corner and started cheering, clapping, and calling encouragement. I genuinely looked behind me to see if they were talking to somebody else. Then I trundled to the fence a wonderful shade of puce, muttering my thanks and not able to look them in the eye.
That cheer wasn’t just ‘for me’ so to speak. It’s a cheer that says ‘we know what you’re doing and we admire you for doing it’ and I’ve since given just as many as I’ve received. The cheer lifts your chin from your chest, raises hope in your heart and makes your feet lighter to pick up from the ground.
Cheering Other Runners
Last week when I was working my way around a 20 mile race course at a snail’s pace I started getting overtaken. Each loop on the course was 10km approximately and each person was doing their own race. There were people running a 10km, half marathon (2 loops), 20 miles (3 loops), and a full marathon (4 loops). I started early on account of being so slow, not in shame, but simply because I wanted to finish at a reasonable hour!
As I was overtaken on my second loop I made an effort to let a roar of ‘great running’, ‘fair play’, or ‘you’re doing great’ to every single person who passed me. Invariably some of them were in their own zone and didn’t respond but the vast majority did. Then I was overtaken by the first of the locals and as I let a roar to him, he let out a shout of encouragement to me. I smiled and my shoulders went back, I felt uplifted to keep up the pace for a little longer. As more and more of my local team members overtook me there was a tap on my shoulder, a gentle word of support, and a cheer which was reciprocated.
I felt like their energy was bolstering me on for the route ahead and when I rounded the final corner to go onto the home straight there they were. Roaring my name and cheering me home.
Long Term Effects Of Cheering
Every single person who runs has their own story to tell, their own journey to undertake. Yet they all appreciate and understand the importance of cheering you home, no matter what your pace or goal. Getting to the start line and then onwards to the finish line is an achievement worth celebrating.
Often at the end of races there is a medal or a t-shirt, or sometimes both. The medal is a great reminder to hang on a hook to mark how far I’ve come. The cheers though, they bolster us all for the races to come.
PS. This day fortnight I run Dublin City Marathon. Gulp.