I had a conversation with a family member who was at court with a sibling and she was struggling because she was not able to do much. As she was sitting there (feeling helpless and frustrated) we were going back-and-forth via text. She felt like she should have been given an opportunity to speak on behalf of her loved one but the court would not allow anyone but the defendant to speak. Attempting to be supportive, I wrote, "Just by being there, you are doing something. He knows that he has the love and support of his family." In the heat of the moment her reply was, "Being here isn't doing (crap)! It is totally pointless! Being someone's support doesn't mean anything." I knew she was upset so I just gave her her space and allowed her to deal with the situation the best she knew how.
This person is an athlete herself and has experienced the benefits of having support countless times. Not only on race day but during training and in non-athletic situations. I keep playing this conversation over in my head and kick myself for not pointing out the importance of her being there. I decided since I can't get this conversation out of my head, I would write this blog. I know many people have been in situations where they feel helpless and wonder if what they are doing is pointless. I have been there too. But know that sometimes listening and simply being there for someone doesn't feel like much but it has more of an impact than you realize.
During my mom's birthday ultra, she ran 49 miles on her 49th birthday to test her athletic ability and mental strength. During this race, she made a point to say she felt like she didn't have to do anything because we were doing everything for her. But, how can we be doing everything when she was the one using her own body to get from point A to point B? We were "just there" to do what we could to make the journey more comfortable. We did not put on her shoes and trek 49 plus miles for her nor did she expect us to.
I've been at races where I'm breathing heavy, my body is aching and I just don't want to go further. Then I see my husband with a huge smile on his face, saying "Keep going baby. You are doing great. You've got this." Or I get a text from my sister saying "Keep your head up and put one foot in front of the other. Each step is closer to the finish line." The next thing I know, I'm thinking to myself, "They are right, I can do this!" And my over-all posture and energy changes. If others believe in me, it makes the questions of self doubt disappear. This kind of motivation has taken me further than I ever thought possible.
Your friends and family may not be able to provide the support you need in every situation you experience. That's why there are support groups/clubs for just about anything. Being part of a support group/club is like being part of something that is bigger than you. Not only are you able to get the support, education and motivation you need but it gives you opportunities to pay it forward.
I am lucky to have my family as my #1 support. But I am also a part of the Marathon Maniacs, Kickin' Asphalt-A Virtual Running Community, Florida Ultra Runners, Boca Raton Road Runners, Sole Sisters, No Meat Athlete Academy, PETA, Plant Powered Peeps and other Online communities. All these people helped me realize that I am not alone. If I am in a situation where I need guidance, I look to my support groups because someone has experienced something similar and may be able to help me along the way.
Please contact me personally if there are struggles that I may be able to help you with. I may not have all the answers but I'll do my best to connect you with the people who do. There are so many people who have graciously helped and motivated me and I'd love to continue to pay it forward.