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Hump Day Giveaway: What Not to Say

April 21, 2010
Not my kids, but love the wobbly letters and pudgy legs.

Not my kids, but love the wobbly letters and pudgy legs.

One of the cooler things about running a race are the fans on the sidelines. When, in any other sport, does a recreational athlete command an audience? Never, unless we’re talking sprouts soccer or the under-12 IM relay at a swim meet. During a race, sometimes the cheerleader is random person on her lawn, coiling up her hose, unexpectedly caught at mile 2 of a 5k, and she yells, “Good job!” Sometimes screaming throngs of people bring you in for the final stretch. Either way, the extra encouragement–they’re cheering for little old me!?--is an unexpected, spirit-raising bonus, like discovering a dry pull-up on a chronic bed-wetter or seeing that Nutella is on sale: 2 jars for $5. (Who can pass up a deal like that?)

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but there’s one time I don’t like the crowd. When somebody says, “You’re almost there.”

Chances are, I know I’m almost there. I’ve rationed every bit of my energy, based on my watch and the mile markers, and I’m well aware that this feat, which seemed like a brilliant idea when I stood at the starting line but now feels like a life sentence, is almost over.

But thanks for the info, Einstein.

More importantly, the trying-to-be-helpful soul is often lying. Almost there, in my dictionary, can be defined in one of three ways: I can see the finish line. I have less than 100 steps until I can stop. I will have the timer thing cut offΒ  my shoe in less than 2 minutes. If none of those qualifications are met, please don’t tell me I’m almost there. I may look like I’m physically close to collapse, but my brain is still shiny, and I’m.not.almost.freakin.there.

To balance out my bitching, here are two things I really like to hear:

“Last uphill of the course!” (If that is, in fact, a true statement. If it’s not, it’s worse than almost there.)


“Looking strong!” (It feels so much more substantial than the bland looking good.)

Full disclosure: my brain goes numb when I’m on the sidelines. I’m a big “woo!er”, often followed by a heartfelt but fully unoriginal “Nice job!” I have, it should be noted, never told a runner she was almost there.

With SBS heading into Big Sur, it’s a perfect time to ask What do you like to hear? What don’t you like to hear? What do you like to cheer? What’s the best race sign you’ve ever seen?

Let us know, and you could win a new Road ID, an integral piece of equipment for any woman who runs alone. The testimonials on the site about how the ID saved lives freak me out, but the scarier thing is being totally anonymous in the cold, hard world when you need help the most. I wear mine pretty regularly, but I admit I need to be more consistent with it.

The best part of the ID? You can customize it, and there’s often enough space for an inspirational saying on the bottom line. I’d suggest “Run Like A Mother” or “Looking Strong” or “I’ve Got This.”

Anything goes, except, of course, “Almost There.”

What phrase is music–or cacophony–to your ears when you run?

113 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen V permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:11 am

    I especially like to hear, “there’s beer around the corner.” Just saying…

  2. Kara permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:44 am

    During the Ukrops 10K (Richmond), someone hollered “Free Bananas at the Finish Line!” I yelled back “FREE BANANAS? Why didn’t anyone tell me that?? I LOVE bananas!!” And then, of course, I upped my pace a little… (I love hollering back to the crowd) It put a smile on my face for the rest of the race!

  3. Sarah permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:47 am

    I have only been to/participated in one race so far: a 5K at the end of February. I don’t recall seeing any signs and there were hardly any spectators along the way. But there were three kids, maybe between the ages of 5 and 8, standing at the end of a driveway as I made my way back to the finish and they held their hands out to everyone who passed them to get high fives. I walked/ran and was bringing up the rear or the runners, but they giggled and laughed like I was somebody important or fast as I high fived all three of them. I know that’s not what you asked for, but it’s all I got. πŸ™‚

    • April 21, 2010 5:50 am

      I love this story!!!! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who’s new to running and who can’t run a sub-9 (or even 10) mile yet!! You go…rock it out….looking (sounding) strong!!!! πŸ˜€

      • April 21, 2010 8:11 am

        Hey Dana–You’re definitely not the only one new to running–and as I’ve said a few times, starting is the hardest part. Kudos for you for your determination. And Sarah, love the mini-novel. You both sound strong and powerful. High fives all around.

      • Sarah permalink
        April 21, 2010 8:26 am

        Dana – I am barely a sub-12 mile. πŸ™‚ You are definitely not the only beginner. I talk a lot about my running endeavors now and recently, a lot of friends and family have been telling me that I’m an inspiration. I am always floored when someone says that, because I don’t think anyone has ever thought of me as inspiring. Both of my sisters-in-law (one is a 12 year old!) have approached me about wanting to start running. So know that you are not alone!! Maybe try to rope someone you know into being a beginner too. πŸ™‚

      • April 21, 2010 8:52 am

        Me so new too! I did three 5k’s last year and then ended up with swelling in my right ankle and pain…ending what I started for the winter! But back at it trying to run a 10 miler in October without killing myself! Everyone has to start somewhere and I too am running @ 12:30 right now!! lol πŸ™‚

  4. April 21, 2010 5:47 am

    What’s really funny??? I LOVE to hear “almost there”, even if it’s a lie. Full disclosure: I just started running in January and I’ve only raced twice. I think that the well-wisher who yelled that bit of encouragement to me realized that I was about to keel over and needed an incentive to keep putting one foot in front of the other!! I LIVE for the day I will hear “looking strong”!! πŸ˜€

  5. Sarah permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:50 am

    Oh, wait! Just as I clicked submit on my mini-novel there, I thought of something else. My Mom was standing with my kids at the end of the half circle about 30 yards from the finish line and as I went by, huffing and puffing and face all red, she turned to the lady standing next to her and said: “That’s my daughter.”

  6. becelisa permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:54 am

    i love races that have my name on the race bib. hearing crowds of people cheering specifically for me makes me feel like more than just another runner in the crowd. it really doesn’t even matter what they say … as long as it’s NOT “you’re almost there!”

  7. April 21, 2010 5:56 am

    during last weekends race, the music to my ears were my two little girls squeaky little voices, and my husbands giant boisterous voice….the had come out on the course around mile two and stood in the freezing cold…to hear those squeaky voices yelling “run mommy runnnnn” , “I love you mooommm”, and from the littlest she managed a “hi mama, hi mama” it was encouraging to know that my running made them excited enough to cheer at 7:30 in the morning in 40 degree weather!! It made me pick up my pace a little too so I could hug them at the finish line!

    I very much dislike “almost there” don’t lie to me we are only at mile one! and while it is only a 3.1 mile race…unless I am staring down the finish line I completely agree I am NOT almost there!

  8. Danielle permalink
    April 21, 2010 6:01 am

    In my first marathon, at mile 9 there was a VERY enthusiastic guy. He had a huge sign over his head (don’t remember what it said) and was clearly infront of the rest of the sedate crowd, loudly yelling “YOU ARE INCREDIBLE!! YOU HAVE ALREADY RUN FURTHER THAN MOST PEOPLE TAKE A CAB! YOU ARE AWESOME!!” That stuck with me through that marathon and all that have followed. I would kiss that guy if I saw him again!

  9. April 21, 2010 6:23 am

    I like to yell – “TAKE ‘EM DOWN 1 BY 1!”

    My favorite signs said “HURRY UP HONEY – I’M HUNGRY” and “YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!” by a funny guy in slippers at mile 2 of a 1/2 – I love it when people make fun of themselves.

  10. Misty permalink
    April 21, 2010 6:34 am

    One of the best comments I received was not from the sidelines, but from a fellow runner on the course. I was probably 1/4 mile from the finish in the Go Girl 10K trail run in lovely Forest Park and this woman said, as I was passing her, “finish strong!” I love how supportive fellow racers can be (I find this even more so in trail races and women-only races).

  11. April 21, 2010 6:38 am

    During the Houston Marathon, ON MY 40th BIRTHDAY — totally loved that — the crowds were great – it was like being in a running Mardi Gras parade…our race numbers had our names. During the second half, I remember a group of spectators calling attention to me and the fact that I was the only one smiling in this crowd running by! It was great. I knew I was smiling on the inside – it was my first 26.2 & I was so stoked – but apparently I was! Of course, their encouragement elicited a fist pump & a “Wwwwoooo!!!” On the flip side, of course, is the story about the 5K where I pushed my daughters in a sports stroller & 20 yards away from STARTING line, one of my daughters turned to me & said, “Ooh, Mommy, you lost,” because, in her eyes, most people blazed past me WITHOUT pushing a double stroller. I won my age group. Take THAT, AnnMarie, you kindergartner, you….;]”

  12. Jill (Mama to 4) permalink
    April 21, 2010 6:41 am

    Two favorites so far: At the Disney half marathon this year -after a horrible cold,rainy,snowy,freezing rain race a very soggy handmade cardboard sign held by a toddler in a stroller that said “Last 1/2 mile” and at the ING Georgia half marathon – “Left, right, left – repeat”.

  13. KarenM permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:03 am

    Two of my favorites: at mile 24, a sign said “Relentless forward motion!”. I also love “If it were easy, I’d be doing it!”

  14. Grainne permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:15 am


  15. Natalie permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:16 am

    The mommy signs at races always kill me (as in, almost make me tear up) because they’re so dang sweet. There’s nothing like sprinting toward the finish line with your kiddos cheering you in–even if that does mean that they’ll bogart your water and bagel! My kids don’t care how unfast I am. πŸ˜‰

    Best thing anyone ever said to me. Hmm. During my first 10-mile race, I was absolutely dying toward the end (I had a nasty cold that really brought me down). This guy (who looked super fast and already had his finishing medal) was walking back to his car. As he passed me, he told me that there was just one more curve/quarter-mile to go. Knowing I was that close made all the difference.

    Worst thing? In that same race, a volunteer at mile 9 gave me the wrong time. I figured I’d blown my time goal and stopped, frustrated, to walk for a minute. Turns out that I finished just 30 seconds over what my goal had been. Oh well! I kicked ass in that race the following year, shaving SEVEN minutes off my time. πŸ™‚

  16. Priscilla permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:19 am

    On a nice cool marathon morning, which was too chilly for volunteers, but perfect for runners, volunteers kept saying “it’s gonna warm up” and “hooray the sun will warm up things.” They don’t realize it is better to be cool than warm.

    My favorite thing someone said to me was at about mile 22 when I was beginning to hurt and not feel so great – “looking fresh!” That just made me laugh out loud.

  17. April 21, 2010 7:29 am

    I love when someone, some absolute stranger yells out, “Go Stephanie!” or “Keep it up Stephanie”…anything with my name in it, that they have picked off of my personalized bib. I just think this is sooo cool, and makes me smile and picks my spirits up a bit, if I am struggling. Even though I have no clue who the person was, and will probably never see them again, that milisecond time where they shout my name, makes me feel I have a friend out there! So cool!

  18. Leah permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:08 am

    The best sign I have ever seen was at the end of my very first marathon. I was running with my dad. I felt like I was going to die at any minute. It was not just my first marathon, but my first real race unless of course you count the Race for the Cure 5k which I don’t. Anyways…I am thinking to myself why I even wanted to do this in the first place as we round a corner and there it is…the finish line. I knew that I was close, but when you see it, it just takes on a whole new meaning. And there to the left of the finish line is my 2 year old daughter holding a sign that said, “You did it, Mama!” and she is yelling, “You did it, Mama…you did it.” I almost couldn’t keep myself from crying. I picked her up and carried her across the finish line with me. I did it to show her that she could do anything that she set her mind to. I hope she remembers that when she is older.

  19. Jenny C. permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:15 am

    I’m with you – You’re almost there! – not very helpful to me. But how about – Looking Good!, or You look awesome! – that really gives me a burst of adrenaline just when I need it in the last couple of miles.

  20. Julie Fredericks permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:19 am

    My favorite is “go mom” especially when it is from my children.

  21. Amber Izzo permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:19 am

    My favorite comment by a wonderful person at mile 22 of a marathon, was “You look like you are gliding over the pavement, smooth and steady!” That made the next 4 miles so much easier and even if it was probably the complete opposite of the truth, I was trudging I am sure, it made me feel awesome!

  22. April 21, 2010 8:33 am

    The best — “Mom, we love you,” “Go Mommy Go!” or “Mom we are proud of you” — all yelled to me by my two kids.

    The most maddening, and funny, but most motivating to get me to run faster? “YOU CALL THAT RUNNING??!!” yelled from my husband (said in a military drill style, but with a huge
    smile on his face).

    And from my pacer (on a long trail race) the BEST? “Pick up your feet – you can do this!” Simple, yes. But when you are extremely fatigued, it doesn’t take much to feel inspired
    and focused once again.

  23. April 21, 2010 8:34 am

    No comments please…I would rather have my Ipod in my ears any day…this is my race…

  24. Stephanie permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:35 am

    Like to hear “Looking good #____”, “stay strong #____”, next race I think I’m going to put my name on my shirt.

    Love little kids cheering & yelling anything & sticking out their hands for high fives- that made me smile so big & gave me a little extra oomph during the final stretch of my first 10K.

  25. April 21, 2010 8:38 am

    and the above is mostly because I am dying and about to crawl over the finish…this Mama needs distraction! πŸ™‚

  26. Katie permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:40 am

    Since I have only run one race it had to have been my husband(who had finished about 4min ahead of me…his first race too) coming back down the race course to tell me that I could sprint it since I was almost at the end. And I also enjoyed all the spectators cheering everyone on!

  27. OtherJulie permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:42 am

    My husband and I ran the Bay to Breakers in SF a gazillion years ago…our daughter was a year and a half. The race has an insane number of people…costumed, naked, drunk, etc. It was a blast. We took out about 5 with our jogging stroller. We called it combat running.

    Anywho, a couple miles into the course we saw a sign about 15 feet in the air that said, “Free Breast Exam.” When we got closer, we could see a college-aged guy kickin’ back in a lounger yelling, “Come on, ladies! Come on over! Free breast exam!”

    While not answering this question, my hubby and I bring it up anytime we are doing a race…and it always cracks me up!!!

  28. April 21, 2010 8:48 am

    I ran my first race, the 10k Coaster Run at Knott’s Berry Farm, this past weekend. My favorite part were the volunteers along the course that cheered for us. I’m a brand new runner and was never into athletics growing up, so it was the first time anyone had ever cheered me on like that. It was awesome! I’m thinking of hiring a squad of people to follow me around and keep me motivated!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 21, 2010 11:03 pm

      Yeah, wouldn’t it be awesome if pedestrians on sidewalks shouted encouragement at each other just as spectators do to runners in a race. “Hey, don’t look so glum!” or “Love your jacket!” or “Your smile lights up my day!”

  29. Tryna permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:50 am

    Best sign I ever saw was during the Portland Marathon 2008, right before the St. John’s bridge, “Pain is Fear leaving your body.” I’ve never forgotten it.

    I love this post. My hubby is doing Ironman in June, and I have a lot of signs to make…will be borrowing a lot of ideas, especially, “Come on honey, I’m hungry.”

  30. April 21, 2010 8:50 am

    I admit I don’t pay a lot of attention to comments from spectators but I do notice the bright smiles and clapping hands. I think folks who come to cheer at races are genuine with their praise and admiration and that’s quite a motivating factor for me.

    My kids have become sign holders for my past couple of marathons. It’s easy to spot them on the course because they’re the ones enthusiatically holding signs above their heads while runners pass by pointing at them and laughing. Here’s a sampling:

    ~This sport would be fun if it wasn’t for all the running.

    ~Just be happy you don’t have bulls chasing you.

    ~Any idiot can run. It takes a special kind of idiot to run a marathon.

    ~Running in a mental sport. You are all insane.

    ~It’s rude to count the people you pass out loud.

    ~Friends don’t let friends run marathons.

    ~18 weeks ago, this seemed like a great idea.

    ~Race Entry: $60. Running Shoes: $90. Chafing body parts you never knew you had: Priceless.

    • April 21, 2010 3:53 pm

      These are great! Can you ship your kids to OKC this weekend?

  31. April 21, 2010 8:52 am

    I love seeing all the little kids holding signs for their Mothers. It always makes me think of mine, and how someday I hope she can do the same for me.

  32. Jackie Bruening permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:53 am

    10 plus years ago I ran my 1st marathon. Sitting at the finish line was a man who called out, “Congratulations! Today you are a marathoner!!” to every finisher. Thinking about that moment still brings tears to my eyes!!

  33. April 21, 2010 9:06 am

    It’s all a blur, a good encouraging blur, but I couldn’t pick a phase out if I wanted too…unless it’s family. My family is cronically late, and ususally miss the first of the race (good thing I’m not a sprinter) but I always know when they get there and no matter what they say, it ignites an inner boost.

  34. Beth B. permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:30 am

    So thankful for the volunteers at races; its a pretty ungrateful job, I would think. I like a smile/cheerful face, maybe a thumb’s up – they can pretty much say anything except “almost there” unless I am actually in fact, almost there. I don’t mind a “looking good” even though I know that 9 times out of 10; indeed i am sure I am NOT looking good. Ha ha. As an aside, re: your comment on RoadID; if you get the one that velcro fastens on your running shoe, you won’t ever be without it (unless you are running barefoot…). I love my RoadID and agree with you; the testimonials on that site are amazing.

  35. Lyndsay S. permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:36 am

    I always like to hear “Looking good” (even when I’m sure I look horrible) and “keep smiling” because it reminds me to enjoy the race. But my favorite is high-fives. I like to pretend that there is a transfer of energy from the person to me through the high five that gives me a rush and helps me stay strong.

  36. sassy b permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:44 am

    – “looking strong”
    – “this hill is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s”
    – “almost there”
    – “gogogo. run run run.”
    – anything really.

    least favorite:
    – silence. if you are going to come watch a race, cheer for everyone, not just the person you’ve come to see.

  37. Cat permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:45 am

    The last marathon I ran, my husband totted my boys around on a bike trailer. They had a hard time getting around due to all the road closures and such so i was FINALLY able to see them at about mile 12. When I spotted them i started yelling, Woo Hoo!! over and over, pointing and picked up my pace to make up for the time i would loose for stopping to kiss my two boys and husband. All i remember hearing was “Mommy!” (from my boys) and “you are flyin'” (from my husband). I continued on-looking back once or twice and was refueled for the remainder of the race.

  38. Eileen permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:50 am

    In the summer (I live in Phoenix, so we’re talking REAL SUMMER) a friend and I do a series of 5ks together. We’re generally in the back of the pack talking to the 80 year old ladies, and encouraging people who are hot and sweaty – which is pretty much everyone when it’s in the “teens” (110+). There’s a guy there at every race each year who passes us on the way back and he always says “You girls are having too much fun!” and I love that, because it really is the spirit of event for us. Also “cute skirt” never feels bad!

  39. Kathy permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:20 am

    My favorite was meeting my girls at mile 21 of my first marathon when I wanted to quit and having them say “Come on Mommy, you can do it. You have to keep running!” They had complete confidence that I could do it!

    At the same marathon there was a woman in pink who showed up at least 6 times on the course! She was shouting “Looking good!” “Great running” “Looking strong” (my favorite) etc. I just loved that she was so dedicated.

    And I agree – I dislike “Almost there!”

  40. April 21, 2010 10:36 am

    I have no idea! I’ve never even BEEN to a race. I think I would like to hear someone spouting off a great song, though. Some Lady GaGa anyone?

    No really, one thing I’d love to hear is my kids and my husband. I can’t wait to hear Tristan yell “go mommy!” (and hopefully the baby will have mastered “mama” by that time). πŸ˜€ It seriously brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.

  41. April 21, 2010 10:36 am

    And thank you for the shout out on Facebook – that was something great to see this morning.

  42. April 21, 2010 10:37 am

    I do a significant amount of running as a Team in Training member so hearing a blood cancer survivor on the side of the road yelling, “Thank You” to me as I run by is incredibly inspiring and motivating — no matter if I’m at mile 6 or mile 23.

  43. Sara permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:13 am

    Did a duathlon this weekend. Just after the second transition my daughter (7 year old – who had just finished the youth tri 1st in her age group) cheered me on with a “Go Mommy! Its not that hard!” That made me laugh and did get me moving.

    But the really funny part was that my husband was videoing at that moment. When I watched it back at home that afternoon, I noted that after she yelled for me, she turned to her dad and said quietly “Why is mom going soooo slow?” Now that made laugh!

    • April 21, 2010 12:23 pm

      That seriously made me laugh out loud!! πŸ˜€

    • Misty permalink
      April 21, 2010 1:21 pm

      Oh! That made me laugh too.

  44. Holly permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:16 am

    It’s been about 7 years since I ran my last race, and I won’t bore you all with the many reasons why. But about two weeks ago, I found this site and started walk/running. And reading these comments today has inspired me to find a race and listen to the crowd.

    Thanks for being here.

    • April 21, 2010 12:24 pm

      GO HOLLY!!!!

      • April 22, 2010 9:53 pm

        Yep, Go Holly! Dana: were you a cheerleader in a former life? You’re great too. Go Dana!

  45. April 21, 2010 11:35 am

    I really like hearing little kids yell for their mommys and daddys. Even if I don’t see my own children along the course that day, it warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes. I love how I can hear my daughter’s voice over everyone else cheering. At the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I wasn’t expecting to see my family at all along the course and I heard her little voice three times among the crowd — it really gave me some motivation to keep moving along, as I had a huge smile on my face!!

  46. Emily Kratzer permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:39 am

    Best one: Coming into Duluth, Minnesota for the last 6-ish miles of Grandma’s Marathon, someone had a sign that read “The body says quit but the spirit says never.” This had been a training mantra of mine, and for some reason, it really hit me emotionally! I started to choke up a bit, which was NOT good because my muscles in my diaphragm then cramped up and, with wide eyes, I told myself “Do NOT lose it yet! Do it at the finish line!” So I finished the race, my first marathon, with that phrase running through my head. Still my favorite to this day!

    • Sarah permalink
      April 21, 2010 4:41 pm

      Love that. I might have to make it a mantra of mine too. πŸ™‚

  47. April 21, 2010 11:47 am

    I love to hear anything that acknowledges I’m there! I have been by some groups of people who are holding signs for others and they say NOTHING to little old me. So I, being shy and reserved, say, “Hey, I’m Chuck!” (or whoever is on the sign.) If they don’t cheer after that, then clearly they have no sense of humor and no soul. Poor Chuck has meanie Jeannies for fans.

    P.S. The final 2 lines on my Road ID says “If I’m injured, please provide chocolate.”

    P.P.S. Since I have one, I hope I’m not the random winner but if I am… I REALLY hope it’s okay to customize this for someone other than me!

  48. April 21, 2010 11:50 am

    I love to hear “you go girl” or something fun like that. Last year when I was running a half marathon I was about on pace with this guy around mile 11. And we ran past this older woman who cheered for me and said, “don’t let him beat you!” It made me smile. I didn’t know who the guy was, but I picked up my pace just a bit and didn’t let him win. I’m sure that lady is part of the reason I PRed that day.

    Things I don’t like to hear: “keep going!” Obviously, I’m going to keep running.

  49. Jennifer permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:11 pm

    The greatest and most inspiring comment I heard was “way to kick ass!” It made me really take a moment to think to myself, “yeah, I do!” Many thanks for that.
    I also like the runs that have the bands playing along the way. I feel like THEY need the support, because there they are at 7:30 in the morning playing hard rock alongside a cold, wet road! Again, many thanks.

  50. Rebecca permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:13 pm

    My two favorite signs were “Run your Yasso off” and “May the course be with you” (with a picture of Yoda wearing a water belt).

  51. April 21, 2010 12:19 pm

    One of my favorite signs was at the halfway point of a half marathon. It said “You did great! Now do it again.” It actually made me laugh out loud.

    • April 21, 2010 12:28 pm

      ….Again, I’m laughing right out loud!!! That’s hilarious!! πŸ˜€

    • April 21, 2010 12:32 pm


  52. Liz Brownlie permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:25 pm

    That picture at the top is a.dor.a.ble.

    Don’t have a favorite quote of my own, but I will vote for “last uphill” as something that is nice to hear.

    Getting a returned, no big deal, high five from the (probably unhappy to be there) policeman on course during a very hot half marathon was a motivator. No words spoken, but and understood – keep going, girl.

  53. April 21, 2010 12:26 pm

    I ran a 15K on Saturday with some major hills…. and when there was 1.5 miles left someone said, “It’s all downhill from here.” and it was music to ears.

  54. April 21, 2010 12:26 pm

    I like when people take the time to give encouragement specifically to me by using my bib number. “You are awesome 4515!” gets me moving more than just a “You are awesome!” that could be directed at any of the racers around me.

  55. April 21, 2010 12:30 pm

    “This is a great day!” (Which reminds me that no matter how the race is going for me–I *am* out there running, and any day I can do that IS a great day!)

  56. April 21, 2010 12:30 pm

    This is an interesting question because about half the time spectators just make me more mad than motivated because the comments seem so fake and forced. Maybe that’s because I’m exhausted and I know I’m not “looking great!” or that I’m not “almost done!” or because when I ran in high school my father was one of those overbearing, overcritical spectators and had NOTHING nice to say to me while I ran (I stopped allowing him to know our team’s schedule).

    I appreciate more the comments from other runners. I try to wear a Penn State shirt when I run because Nittany Lions are everywhere. I love when another runner says “WE ARE…” (to which an alum would answer “PENN STATE!!”) even if that person is passing me. At an 8 mile race 2 weeks ago I got a really funny “Nice shoes!” from an older woman wearing the same Nikes as me as I passed her. She was so cute!

    I’m slowly warming up to the idea of kind spectators, and perhaps inviting my husband to attend a race but the one cheer I want to hear I heard for the first time last week after a run. My 2-1/2-year-old son said “Mom run fast!” for the first time. Sure, it sounded like “Mom wun tatht” but I know what he meant, and that’s all that matters.

  57. April 21, 2010 12:30 pm

    I yell the lame, “Lookin’ good!”
    The worst was when I was walking a bit during a marathon and a woman on the sidelines told me to, “Start running!” I don’t think she’d run a marathon and I had to bite my tongue not to say something not so nice to her!
    I get pumped up when folks play music on their lawn speakers. Love that!

  58. April 21, 2010 12:38 pm

    At the Oakland marathon the signs that said, “Don’t stop – people are watching!” worked for me!

  59. Lisa Zieger permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:48 pm

    I’m planning to run my first race– the Annapolis Zooma 10K — this June. In June 2009, I was recovering from a nasty C-Section following the birth of my first (and to date only!) son, Eliot. What I’d really love to hear from the sideline? “MAMA!”

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 21, 2010 11:06 pm

      Lisa–Stop by and introduce yourself in Annapolis. I’ll be there selling/signing books and tees.
      One of my fondest marathon memories: Stopping midway to kiss my older daughter, who was then just 14 months old.

      • Lisa Zieger permalink
        April 27, 2010 12:41 pm

        I will! RLAM is what inspired me to find a race to run in the first place!

        Race Etiquette question, if you don’t mind me asking: Do I shower before or after the race party/expo thing? (If I am stopping by to say hello after running 10K, I don’t blame you for an emphatic “BEFORE!” response :-))

  60. Beth F permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:55 pm

    Since running with my 5th appendage, the jogging stroller, my new favorite thing to hear during a 5k (or less), is “Go, go, go!” coming from the underside of the canopy of my jogging stroller. My son often yells this out during runs (quite honestly, when I need the motivation, I prompt him to yell it).

    From spectators, I like to hear “Finish strong, you’re almost there”. I don’t care if I’m 50 or 500 feet from the finish, I just like to know I’m “almost there”. My feet kick it up a notch or two and I find myself running stronger since I’m “almost there”, although if the person was inaccurate in their estimate, I do start thinking of what I’d like to say to them after the race when I find them in the crowd.

    My favorite race(s) are the ones where your name is on the bib. I love hearing people personalize the cheering and I love personalizing the encouragement when I’m a spectator.

  61. Den permalink
    April 21, 2010 1:17 pm

    I always love to see the sign, “This is STILL a good idea!”

  62. April 21, 2010 1:23 pm

    in my first marathon I was totally dying and there on the corner there was a little girl yelling, ” Pain is temporary, PRIDE is forever” She just kept chanting it and for some reason it helped me. I thought ya I can tell everyone that HOLY CRAP I just ran a marathon.

    • April 21, 2010 1:25 pm

      Oh ya I also love it when you are pushing a jogging stroller with your 6 year old and you pass some guy and he just doesn’t know what to say. The look on his face is enough for me!

  63. Amanda permalink
    April 21, 2010 1:27 pm

    I don’t need to hear anything when I see baby after baby and kid after kid dressed in mismatched or dirty clothes and unbrushed hair or barely assembled ponytails. It makes me happy to see the Daddies on duty so the Mamas can burn up the course. And, I like to shout to the legions passing me “You’re a machine! Take them all down.”

  64. April 21, 2010 1:48 pm

    Too funny. The San Diego Marathon (like some others) allows you to personalize your bib number. I put my name on there, and didn’t think much of it. About three quarters of the way through the race, someone at a water stop looked me right in the eye and said, “You are doing great, Michelle.” Under normal circumstances this kind of thing would freak me out a bit, I’m quiet, and I like to stay anonymous. In a marathon, however, all of the rules change. The best thing about that course (and pretty much the only thing I liked) was the crowd. They really get a lot of people out cheering for you. It is something I would not think I would really like, but in a longer race anything helps.

  65. April 21, 2010 2:01 pm

    I’ve trained my husband to yell “Wow, you look so much skinnier than when you started!” That’s pretty much music to my ears. πŸ™‚

  66. JnetRuns permalink
    April 21, 2010 2:10 pm

    Have only run 2 10k’s (with no spectators at all!) and a half-marathon last month where a guy said “Almost there!” at the 10-mile mark! So I definitely feel your pain on that one; I felt like punching him out. But I did appreciate one of the volunteers I kept seeing along the course saying “good job ladies!” everytime she saw us (we were all aged 50 or over).

  67. April 21, 2010 2:18 pm

    I often get “Go Crazy Barefoot Lady!!”
    Makes me smile!
    My kids are usually at home eating breakfast still with the hubby but I would love for them to support me at the Des Moines Marathon this year.
    I don’t mind hearing “almost there” I just figure that the person yelling it couldn’t come up with anything better so they yell what they think people want to hear. The fact that they are out there yelling something is great!

  68. April 21, 2010 2:31 pm

    I enjoy “Who needs toenails anyway?”
    and “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking so much ass!”

    The only thing I did not enjoy was last year in Boston at mile 25.5 coming up out of an underpass someone yelled “This is a marathon not a walkathon”
    I was not the one walking but still I could have killed that guy.

  69. Jenn (@jxchu) permalink
    April 21, 2010 2:42 pm

    I just like a good ol’ “wooooo!” or “go go go!”

  70. Lynn permalink
    April 21, 2010 2:42 pm

    To be honest, I don’t really like anybody yelling anything at me when I’ve given it my all…but beer/refreshment notification, cheers and clapping all make the grade. πŸ˜‰

  71. Tuba permalink
    April 21, 2010 2:51 pm

    At CIM last year, a sign read “Pain is temporary, pride is forever”. I had heard this saying before, but at mile 18, it really struck me as true.

    Favorite cheer: “Be strong” – better than “Looking strong” because sometimes I just don’t look strong and it’s annoying that someone claims I do. But “be strong” tells me at least I should try…

  72. April 21, 2010 2:57 pm

    My boyfriend has a very high pitched whistle so I love to hear that plus him yelling for me. he is always very encouraging. I hate it when people say “this is the last hill!” or “you are almost there” at mile 11 of a half marathon! I am not almost there!! I am almost there when I can see the finish line!

  73. April 21, 2010 3:00 pm

    i like to say looking good, amazing job, that type of stuff….

  74. Karen permalink
    April 21, 2010 3:03 pm

    My most favorite? “Go mommy go!” My least favorite “Mommy, Ben punched me!!!” (as I”m running by….during a 5k). πŸ™‚

  75. April 21, 2010 3:09 pm

    The best thing I heard at my race last Saturday was: “Great Job runners! Enjoy it, today’s your day!” It made me remember how hard I had worked and how privileged I was to be there!

  76. Meg permalink
    April 21, 2010 4:24 pm

    The best signs I ever saw were of a picture of a dog that said, “Run Faster, Run Faster… Run like Murray!” There were four or five of those throughout the course and they all made me think of my own furry running partner. πŸ™‚

  77. April 21, 2010 6:13 pm

    I love this post! I so totally agree with you about the phrase “you’re almost there”. I really can’t think of any circumstance under which it is in any way helpful and it is absolutely, just plain wrong to say or hear during a marathon. I am not particularly fond of “looking good” either because I know I look like crap! I like the simple “good job” or to hear my name. I also really like funny signs. My most recent favorite was “Run now, chafe later!”.

  78. April 21, 2010 7:18 pm

    I agree with you on the “almost there” thing. Gag! I had rather just hear “you’re doing great” or “great job.” The signs are fun at the finish, but I forget to look at them while I’m running. I’m running the Nashville Rock ‘N Roll 1/2 on Saturday. Send me fast vibes, OK?!

  79. April 21, 2010 7:22 pm

    I run the same half marathon every year, and there is the same spectator that I look forward to seeing every.year. He’s some guy dressed up as Elvis singing the same (Elvis! go figure) songs (PA system and all) every year, but I get such a kick out of it! I don’t know why… He’s positioned near the top of a very long, hard hill in the course and I know that when I see him, the pain of the hill is almost over. Plus he has people with him handing out Jolly Ranchers. Whatever keeps ya going, right?

    I can’t wait until my twins are yelling things like, “Go Mommy” and making signs like the one pictured at the top of the post!

  80. GottaRun26.2 permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:22 pm

    It used to annoy me when people would say “You’re almost there” when I knew it was not true. It was sometimes even psychologically draining as I anticipated the finish line for much too long.

    I have instead learned to focus on the positive and be thankful that there are spectators out there cheering on and encouraging all of the runners, including myself. Spectators mean well and I have learned to use all of their words to my benefit. No sense in letting strangers on the side line bring you down mentally and ruin your race. You cannot control what people say to you but you CAN control how you think about it.

  81. April 21, 2010 9:29 pm

    My favorite motivator was during my very first 5k. I had just finished my last chemo treatment and there I was in a sea of pink at the Charlotte Komen Race for a Cure. I felt very self conscious as I walked the course, mustering every bit of strength within me to go forward and complete the course. I had on the survivor pink shirt and pink hat on to cover my bald head. Prior to the race I felt alone in my diagnosis, that all changed that day as I saw all the pink survivor shirts and it was that day I knew I would be ok and that I truly was going to survive this dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer. As I was walking the course, a group of people on the sideline saw me and started clapping, I immediately burst into tears of joy and walked a little faster and stood a little taller, I felt like a rockstar!

    • Sarah permalink
      April 22, 2010 5:01 am

      Good for you. πŸ™‚ My aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Kudos to you for being such a strong woman.

  82. April 22, 2010 1:43 am

    I had some friends meet me a different points of a course, each time they saw me they’d tell me how many miles until Beer and Pizza at the Finish. Then they had beer and pizza for me at the finish. I wish I had known they were planning on having it, might have made me run a little faster.

  83. Jill permalink
    April 22, 2010 7:49 am

    I like the “Say cheese” because the cameras are around the corner. That gives you time to perk up before they snap the pic. What better motivator for the next race than awesome race pics.

  84. April 22, 2010 8:14 am

    The absolute best was from a man seeing me struggle through the run leg of a triathlon – I knew I looked bad – but I was smiling. He just said “Great Game Face!” I had to laugh. And I needed to laugh.

    The other best was when my kids and grandkids surprised me at a finish line. When I heard “mom” and it was for ME! It was amazing.

    I absolutely hate it when people say “looking good” because I don’t feel like this 58 year old looks too good and it makes me feel pitiful.

  85. Cathy permalink
    April 22, 2010 8:51 am

    My very first race, a 5k that I struggled through and surprisingly my sister had shown up near the finish line-just to cheer me on. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but the fact she was there running along the sideline and yelling loud meant so much to me. Even now, almost 10 years later that moment still makes me cry thinking about it.

    I also was able to eventually able to return the favour as I was waiting for her at the end of her first 5K about last year.

  86. Cathy permalink
    April 22, 2010 8:51 am

    My very first race, a 5k that I struggled through and surprisingly my sister had shown up near the finish line-just to cheer me on. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but the fact she was there running along the sideline and yelling loud meant so much to me. Even now, almost 10 years later that moment still makes me cry thinking about it.

    I also was able to eventually able to return the favour as I was waiting for her at the end of her first 5K last year.

  87. April 22, 2010 9:13 am

    I haven’t been able to run in about a year and prior to that I had only run in a handful of 5Ks. Maybe it’s my lack of race experience and the periodic feeling that someone’s going to call me out as an imposter (“See that woman in the purple running shorts?! She only runs three times a week–get her out of here!”) but I’m pathetically thrilled when anyone calls out anything remotely encouraging! Like my race t-shirt and bib, it makes me feel like a “real runner.” πŸ™‚

    Love your site! Come to Knoxville, TN on your tour, pretty-please–we’ve got lots of runners here!


  88. April 22, 2010 10:11 am

    I’d like to hear “You look awesome!” “Nice skirt!”

    Hate to hear “Just a few more steps/miles/blocks/whatever.” “Don’t look back!”

  89. April 26, 2010 7:17 am

    I like to hear “You can do it!!” because sometimes I forget that.

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