Sunday, 14 March 2010

The marathon training

Supporting someone who is training for a marathon requires many skills:
  • Being able to cook pasta on a regular basis, and find new and interesting ways to do so that don't leave everybody else in the family jaded (Jo Pratt in her excellent book In The Mood for Food gives a wonderful recipe for pasta meatballs in chianti which she devised to feed her husband when he was marathon training).
  • Being able to recall at a moment's notice where abouts in the washing cycle the favourite pair of running shorts is (there will be three seemingly identical pairs of running shorts, but one will be better than the other two).
  • Washing stinky running kit ALL THE TIME (or don't wash it, but then don't moan when someone else leaves it festering for days and then puts it in the machine a minute before you really needed to do an emergency school uniform wash).
  • Not laughing, teasing, or taking photos when the marathon trainer does his stretches on the bedroom floor.
  • Being tolerant of their enormous capacity for sleep.  Long distance runners are either going for long runs for hours at a time, or sleeping off long runs for hours at a time.
  • Concentrating when listening to descriptions of their long runs.  In particular try not to get muddled between kilometres and miles and remember what times they're aiming for so that you can say helpful things like "10k in under forty five minutes?  well done, darling!" rather than unhelpful things like "so are you going any faster yet?".
  • Nagging them to rest and do yoga or swimming for a couple of days whenever the knee support puts in an appearance.

I've not watched many of G's triathlons over the years, and I won't be watching his first marathon in Brighton next month.  But both of us know that a supportive partner is one who is there for all the endless months of training, self doubt, dirty washing and angst that go into such events.  The races themselves are the result of all that training and they are exciting and satisfying for the competitor, but generally pretty dull for the spectators (and especially dull for children). 

So I've recently stopped feeling bad that I don't go along to most of the races.  The supportive role is a deeply unglamorous one, but one that is essential to everyone's wellbeing, and much appreciated around here.  I shall be at home on marathon day, cooking up a big supper for when G gets home.  It probably won't be pasta though.


  1. Good for you and good for him - I can't imagine how hard it must be to be a marathon supporter, let alone the competitor! I'm a choir supporter which is hardly the same thing but does mean I often don't see my husband for days on end around concert time.

  2. It's true then. Most endeavours eventually lead to laundry.

  3. I too support...and cook pasta, for one who does mountain marathons, who gets excited about stoves which shave 1g off the weight off his current one, cutting the handle off his toothbrush so it weighs less, cataloguing his injuries on his first post-marathon soak in the bath (ice cuts, loose blackened toe nails, chafing needing burns dressings). I also have to source appropriate audiobooks for the long drive from Cornwall to the mountains of Britain - always 100s of miles away

  4. I too am a supporter, my daughter rides and does one day events so I am chief laundress for daughter and horse, tack cleaner, occasional horse box driver and emotional support when things don't go to plan. I am glad I'm there in the back ground though. Good luck to G for the marathon.

  5. I'd rather cook the pasta than run the marathon!

    Hats off to him (and you, of course).


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