So, You're Running the Boston Marathon...

You've put in endless training miles, made several attempts to qualify, and now you're packed and ready to head to Boston this weekend! First of all, CONGRATS! You have reached runner level 100!

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We've talked to a few local Boston Marathon veterans and asked them for a few tips and tricks for race weekend. Enjoy, and good luck to everyone from Chattanooga racing on Monday!

Race Prep:

"Stalk your favorite elite runners, its the only time it's really okay! There are lots of events happening with famous runners giving talks or group runs, so if you want to see someone, do some research! We ran into Shalane Flanagan last year giving a talk at the Runner's World pop-up shop!" - Morgan Olson (1x Boston Finisher, '17)

For starters, check out these events happening:

"Buy a cheap 'throw away' blanket and 'throw away' sweats to wear to the athletes' village on race morning" -Scott Hamby (2x Boston Finisher, '16, '17, and headed back this weekend!)

"The day before the race, get your 3-4 mile shakeout run in on the Charles River Esplanade. It's a beautiful riverwalk with beautiful views of Boston! Really, just go exploring, anywhere you run you will see some cool sights." -Morgan Olson

"Hydrate! If the human body is a machine then water is the oil that keeps it running!" -Dianna Leun (2x Boston Finisher, '14, '17, and going back this weekend!)

"Talk to a stranger! Safety first of course, but strike up conversation on the subway, the bus to the race or in the port-a-potty line. Everyone is hyped up so it helps calm the nerves, and you can make a new friend!" - Dianna Leun

Race Day:

"Wear sunscreen" -Michael Green (2x Boston Finisher, '96 and '04)

"Don't worry, there is a last minute port-a-potty stop right before the start line" - Morgan Olson

"Go out conservatively, run the first 2 miles about 20 seconds slower than you want to run" -Alan Outlaw (1x Boston Finisher, '17)

"Run conservative until you reach Newton...around mile 16" -Scott Hamby

"Go out easy, take your time and don't force your way through the pack in the first several miles. The hills near the end only beat people down if they've already beat up their legs in the first part of the race" Kevin Huwe (3x Boston Finisher, '13, '14', and '17)

"Avoid zig zagging in the mass amounts of people, it's exhausting and it'll make you more frustrated." - Morgan Olson

"After you finish the race, it's about a mile to family/friend meet-up area, so think positive thoughts and don't fall over." -Morgan Olson 

Boston Experiences:

"A Red Sox game is a nice way to get the Boston experience before the race" Kevin Huwe

"The city of Boston is wonderful. Grab something at the bakery and savor each and every bite!" - Dianna Leun

"Go to Mike's Pastry in the North End. They have so many varieties of cannolies, you won't be able to pick just one!" -Scott Hamby

"Dunkin Donuts is the best local coffee shop you can go to!" 

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Good luck to everyone racing Boston on Monday!

Don't Stress. Remember where you are, and all you've done to be there. It's quite an accomplishment, so take it all in and enjoy the experience. Boston is a tough course with tough conditions, so just have fun with it. We hope you have enjoyed these tips and tricks!

Must-Do Chattanooga Races in 2018!

You've set your new year's resolutions: get fit, stay in shape, eat healthier. What better accountability than a tangible goal you have to train for, like a race! Races provide an end goal to work towards, whether that's to run a fast a 5k or to run your first half marathon. A registration fee and date on the calendar are excellent accountability partners that will all keep you motivated to train and push yourself!

Whether you're just starting out or need a bigger, badder challenge, here are eleven races to put on your calendar for 2018.

1. Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon, Half Marathon, 5k, and Kids Race: March 2-4, 2018

This race will not disappoint you. Although a young race, over the past 3 years the city of Chattanooga has come out strong with cheering and support throughout the race. It is a blast running through the various neighborhoods of Chattanooga, and seeing everyone out cheering. There is a large expo the day before at the First Tennessee Pavilion, and there's always great race swag for participants. There is still plenty of time to sign up and start training, don't delay! Click here for more info or to register!

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2. Rock/Creek River Gorge 10.2m Trail Race: March 24, 2018

If you've always wanted to try a trail race, the R/C River Gorge is a fantastic chance to dip your toes into the trail world. The course has beautiful scenery with challenging a single track course through Mullens Cove loop at Prentice Cooper State Forest. For more info or to register, click here!

3. 65 Roses 5k: March 24, 2018

In it's 16th year, the 65 Roses 5k has raised about $1 million for Cystic Fibrosis. This year they are having a special guest, Olympian marathon runner Meb Keflezghi! You can sign up for the VIP ticket and have a chance to meet him in person, and it's all for a great cause! For more info or to register, click here!

4. Chickamauga Chase 15k, 8M, Walk, Kiddie K: April 21, 2018

This year will be the 50th running of the Chickamauga Chase, solidifying it as a Chattanooga classic, and must-do race for locals! This event has something for everyone, and we mean EVERYONE. From a road 15k race to a 8m trail race to the Kiddie K, this race is perfect for the running family. Road runners, trail runners, walkers, and kids will all enjoy a beautiful day of racing at the Battlefield. Not to mention the awards for the top finishers are Civil War bayonets!  For more information or to register, click here!

5. Chattanooga Chase 8k and 1 mile: May 28, 2018

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 Photo by Varina Shaughnessy

Photo by Varina Shaughnessy

In its 51st running, this challenging and hilly road course shows no mercy until the fast, flowing, downhill finish. But let's be real, this race is all about the after party! In recent years, the Chattanooga Chase has been sponsored by local restaurants who have up'd the heigh of the post-race festivities, providing food and drinks to all participants and families. Join us for a fun race kicking off your Memorial Day. For more information or to register, click here!

6. Waterfront Triathlon: June 24, 2018

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Chattanooga is known for being a triathlon city with the Ironman 70.3, full Ironman, and in 2017, we hosted the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. If you've been inspired by all the men and women in space helmets on bikes, before you sign up for the full 140.6 miles, start with this competitive but friendly Chattanooga tri. The Waterfront Triathlon offers both sprint and olympic distances, perfect for a beginner triathlete, yet challenging enough for advanced racers. For more information or to register, click here!

7. Missionary Ridge 4.7 Mile Road Race: August 11, 2018

Another classic Chattanooga race in its 45th year running! This rolling course on top of the ridge has breathtaking scenery the entire route. In August, the weather is sure to be hot and humid, so stay hydrated, and challenge yourself to take on the ridge! For more info or to register, click here!

8. Cam Bean Memorial 5k and Kids race: August 25, 2018

 Photo by Emily Lester

Photo by Emily Lester

In its 3rd year, the Cam Run 5k and 1mile is very dear to our hearts. Cameron Bean, a former Fast Break employee, was tragically killed while running on Moccasin Bend Road which is the location of the race. The 5k in the morning is open to everyone! The top 25 male and female winners from the 5k will have the chance to compete in the 1 mile event that evening as a part of the River Gorge Omnium bike race. Click here for more information or to register! 

9. Battlefield Marathon, Half Marathon, Kids Run: November 10, 2018

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A race through history! This rolling course takes your through beautiful Civil War battlefields and around historical moments, memorials, and canons. It's a great race to go after that elusive Boston Qualifier! Everyone can participate with distances from the full and half marathon to the Jr. Marathon. For the Jr. Marathon, kids log 25.2 miles throughout the year, and run their final momentous mile on race day. For more info or to register click here!

10. Sports Barn Turkey Trot

There is no other Turkey Trot in Chattanooga like this one. For years, this race has brought out before the devouring, football and food coma's start. Burn the calories before you eat them! Proceeds go to the Kidney Foundation of Chattanooga. Click here for more info or to register! 

11. Wuahatchie Trail Race

 Photo by Kari Vradenberg

Photo by Kari Vradenberg

It's not just about how fast your are, but how old you are! Experience a different type of race with an age graded start. Each age group has a different start time that levels the playing field for a chance to win the Golden Antlers! The course is at  Reflection Riding Arboretum. Participant are encouraged to bring a white elephant gift for the prize table! For more info or to register, click here!

Honorable Mentions

There are SO MANY great races in Chattanooga that we've run out of room! These honorable mentions are more that the Fast Break crew loves and runs. Click on each one for more info or to register.

Good luck with your fitness goals this year! 

Holiday Gift Guide for “That Person” in Your Life

For all "those people" in your life- that crazy relative who runs 10 miles before presents on Christmas day, the friend that spends 30 hours a week swimming, biking, running, or the co-worker who blazes trails during lunch breaks- those people who you never know what gift to give them at Christmas, we have a made you a guide! Here are our suggestions for "that guy" or "that girl" in your life. 

Your Over Prepared Triathlete Friend:

Your absolutely crazy friend that signed up for the Chattanooga Ironman or half Ironman without ever running a mile in her life! (I thought she said she hated running!?) Along with some mental help, here is what to get them this Christmas to encourage them across that finish line! 

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  • TYR tri top: $65, $26 (60% off!)
  • TYR tri shirts: $72, 28.80 (60% off!)
  • Trigger Point STK: $35
  • Nathan Mirage Pak: $20
  • Swim Cap: $8-$14
  • Goggles: $15-$30
  • Nathan Quick Laces: $8-$10
  • Fast Break Boco Gear Visor: $25
  • Goodr glasses: $25
  • SunBum sunscreen lip balm: $4
  • Nutrition
  • Properly fitted shoes, bring them in to get fitted!

Your Super Into Fitness Girlfriend:

Your girlfriend crossfits in the morning, yogas in the evening, commutes 15 miles by bike to work, and runs a 5k race every weekend, and wins. Oh, and she teaches 2 spin classes in her spare time. But don't let her biceps intimidate you from getting her the perfect gift! A girl can never have too many athletic tights.

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  • Fast Break workout tank: $20, or 2 for $30
  • North Face Sports bra: $45, $36 (20% off!)
  • Nike Leggings: $75, $60 (20% off!)
  • Nathan handheld water bottle: $35
  • 13.1 Swiftwick Socks: $14, Buy 3 pairs, get 1 free!
  • Asics headbands: $20 $12 (40% 0ff!)
  • Goodr Sunglasses: $25
  • The North Face packable gym bag: $55, $44 (20% off!)
  • Properly fitted shoes, bring her in to get fitted! It'll be like a fun date! Or just give her a gift card, shoes range from $100-$160

Your Instagram Famous Trail Blazing Brother: 

You text your brother at 8am on a Saturday and he finally responds 6 hours later when he's done with his trail run. Chattanooga is full of endless trails to explore and waterfalls to find whether running, hiking, or biking. Give him the gift of a hydration pack with an iPhone holder to continue getting those epic pics!  

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  • The North Face Rain Jackets: $180-$250, $144-$200 (20% off!)
  • Fast Break tee: $20, or 2 for $30
  • Nathan or Camelback Hydration Packs: $90-$150
  • Wool-Based Swiftwick socks: $14-$22, buy 3 pairs, get one free!
  • Fast Break Trucker Hat: $25
  • Goodr Glasses: $25
  • Garmin Fenix5s: $600
  • Picky Bars: $2.75each, buy 3 get 1 free!
  • Properly fitted trail shoes! Make sure they get the right fit and trail shoe for their needs by bringing them in to get fitted, or giving them a gift card, trail shoes range from $100-$140.

Your Sweet Grandma Who is "Over Materialism" and Just "Wants Love" for Christmas:

OK Grandma.... quality time it is! Make it a special, pain free time, with a pair of specially fitted walking shoes (and Powersteps, if needed). Her feet, legs, and hips will be comfortable and well supported. She'll be ready to spend all day with you! 

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  • Properly fitted shoes, bring her in to get fitted, or give her a gift card $100-$160
  • PowerStep Orthotics: $40
  • Sockwell Compression Socks: $25, Buy 2 pairs get 1 free!
  • Nike 3/4 zip Pullover: $65-$85, $52-$68 (20% off!)
  • Saucony Boston Pant: $65, $52 (20% off!)
  • Trigger Point Nano Foot Roller: $25

Your Little Niece or Nephew Who Never. Stops. Moving:

While sweet, charming, and perfect in all those photos your sister posts on social media, your nieces and nephews only know how to run in circles screaming Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer while at your house. Give those kids an outlet through a new sport! (Or send them home with Energy Beans for your lovely sister.)

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  • Fast Break kids t-shirt: $20, or 2 for $30
  • Goodr sunglasses: $25
  • Timex watch: $55-$80
  • Asics kids socks 3 pack: $12
  • Goggles: $15-$30
  • Nike backpack: $16-$18
  • Emoji Sneaker Balls: $5-$10
  • Blinky lights: $10
  • Properly fitted shoes. Bring them in to get fitted, or get them a gift card! Kids shoes range from $65-$100
  • Jelly Bean Sport Beans: $1.29

 

Good luck with all your Christmas shopping! We are always available to help (or vent to)! 

 

40 Years of Fast Break

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This story begins in 1977.... 

Once upon a time, there was a dark age in Chattanooga's history when no running shop existed. If local runners wanted good running shoes, they had to drive 2 hours to find them. Dick Dillard, a faithful morning runner (6 miles, 6 days a week, with his 6 friends), was tired of the gas cost and long drive just for a pair of shoes. Determined to save our city, Dick opened his own athletic store, ushering in Chattanooga’s golden age of running-based enlightenment, prosperity, and fitness. 

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In May 1977, Dick opened the original Fast Break Athletics under the franchise Athletic Attic at Eastgate Mall. The business quickly grew, morphing into an all around athletic gear store. Over the course of the next 10 years, Dick opened 6 more locations in Tennessee and Alabama to meet demand. 

In 1980, our beloved Joey Howe joined the Fast Break team, as a fresh faced teenager.

But working with a franchise was not his long-term dream. Dick broke away from Athletic Attic in 1995 and closed down all stores but one, the original Fast Break. To financially survive, Dick had to let go of all employees except Michael Green. Joey went back to his cobbler shop, repairing shoes and keeping a close friendship with the Dillards. 

 Dillard explaining footwear
Dick Dillard taught me everything that I know.
 - Gandhi 

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With only one store to manage, Dick decided to go back to his original passion and sell only running and walking shoes. He loved helping people learn a new, healthy lifestyle.

I only buy my running shoes at Fast Break Athletics.
 - Abraham Lincoln

At the time, only one employee would work at the store all day, so the store would close down 10 minutes every day for Dick or Michael to walk across the street and buy a sub sandwich. 

In November 1996, a store space became available on Frasier Avenue, blocks away from Dick's home. He couldn't imagine driving by someone else's storefront, right by his house every day. So he moved Fast Break to North Shore. 

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Fast Break continued to grow, hiring on more staff and bringing back Joey! Michael sealed his forever spot at Fast Break when a shop lifter tried on a pair of shoes at the new store then ran out the door without paying. Michael and a police officer ran him down to get the shoes back (and arrest him). 

In September of 2009, Dick sold the store to the Winchester brothers who brought in their own enthusiasm and new personalities, aiming to continue to support the local Chattanooga running scene. It was Zach Winchester and Joey who hired on Alan Outlaw in July 2010 after a freak food processor accident left Alan immobile. Alan brought killer 80's dance moves and a deep passion for helping others enjoy running. In 2011, Fast Break moved to the current location on Cherokee Blvd.

Through the years, Fast Break has watched the running world change from just a handful of walkers, runners, and joggers to an entire community of men, women, and children running, racing, and exercising for the love of the sport.

And through it all, Fast Break has never run out of shoes!

Fast Break wants to continue to support our Chattanooga running family through the coming decades, so we are upgrading again to a new store just 2 blocks down on Cherokee Blvd! (More on that to come so stay tuned!)

As a thank you to everyone in the Chattanooga community who has run with us these past 40 years, we are throwing a Fast Break birthday party!  Join us this Friday, November 3 for our 40th Year Celebration! 

The force is strong with this… running store.  - Han Solo

Must-Do November Events and Races in Chattanooga!

We hope to see you at these upcoming events, races, and group runs! 

Fast Break 40 Years Celebration

November 3, 2017 - 7PM - Fast Break Athletics 19 Cherokee Blvd
Fast Break is celebrating 40 years! Join us for food, live music, drinks, and a good time! For more information check out the event page on Facebook.

Battlefield Marathon, Half Marathon, 5k

November 11, 2017
The rolling course is extremely beautiful and takes you on a tour of historical moments, memorials, and canons. Everyone can participate with distances from the full and half marathon to the Jr. Marathon. Click here to register or for more info!

Sportsbarn Turkey Trot

Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sportsbarn East • 6148 Lee Hwy Chattanooga, TN  37421

Chattanooga's classic Turkey Trot! This is always a MUST-DO RACE on Thanksgiving day! This is a dog and kid friendly event, there is something for the whole family, and thats what Thanksgiving is all about, right?! To register and for more info, click here!

 image from http://gratefulgobblerwalk.org/

image from http://gratefulgobblerwalk.org/

Grateful Gobbler

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - Coolidge Park
Walk for an awesome cause on Thanksgiving day with your family! 100% of the proceeds of the walk will go towards the Maclellan Shelter for Families. This is an emergency homeless shelter for families. For more info about the walk and to register, click here!

Fast Break Group Runs

As always, we have our weekly group runs! These are for everyone, all levels and abilities. Come run with us! For more info check out our website! 
Track Workout - Mondays 6:30pm
Road/Trail - Tuesdays 6:00pm
Long Run - Sundays 7:00am

Battling the Plantar Fasciitis Monster

Many people have experienced the terrible, awful pain of plantar fasciitis. Once the pain train starts rolling, it feels like it can’t be stopped. If you have experienced this, you understand how desperate one can be to find relief from heel pain and a way to get back to walking and running normally.  

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If you aren’t really sure what we’re talking about, here’s a short quiz to find out if you have plantar fasciitis: 

  • When you step out of bed, do you yell in pain then perform the “morning hobble” dance to the bathroom?
  • Do you find yourself telling co-workers about this knife like sensation in your heel?
  • Have you seriously considered walking on your hands?
  • Is “ouch” the first word out of your mouth when you stand up?
  • Are you reading WebMD articles about heel pain and looking at buying some ridiculously expensive shoe contraption to stop it?
  • Does a sharp pain makes you scream at the beginning of a run, but disappears a few miles in?
  • Have you made an appointment with your doctor to find out how much it is going to cost to amputate your foot?

If you answered yes to any of these, unfortunately, you have diagnosed yourself with plantar fasciitis. Some people struggle with the pain on and off for years, which is why it’s so important to catch the pain early on.

Local physical therapist Rebecca Wykle talked with us about what exactly is happening in the foot when plantar fasciitis pain flairs up and how to treat it before it gets too bad. By following a few basic care treatments, you can help the foot heal on it’s own and avoid getting to the point of seeing a therapist.

WHAT IS THE PLANTAR FASCIA

It’s a really thick band of strong connective tissue that runs from the base of your toes down to your heel. It helps support the arch of the foot.

WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

When there's extra tension being put on that plantar fascia band, inflammation occurs at the attachment at the heel bone. So what you feel is a really sharp stabbing pain at the bottom of your heel in the fat pad. It's typically worse at the start of the morning when you first step down.

WHAT CAUSES PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

Numerous things, but the root cause is usually that the area is being over used. Usually it can occur when you do something you don't normally do, or change up your routine. Did you recently add mileage to your training schedule, or go on a trip to Disney and walk a lot more than usual?

Here are a few factors that can put you at risk: tight calves, excessively walking around barefoot, standing all day on non-supportive shoes, weak hips, over pronation, and obesity.

HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?

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Stop walking around barefoot. Wear a shoe with cushion and support around the house. When you wake up in the morning, instead of stepping down and stretching out the plantar fascia, slide into a pair of shoes with support so that you won’t tear or strain the tissues. Socks with sandals are cool, right!? We carry Oofos and PowerStep sandals, which both provide support and relief, come check them out!

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Stretch your calves. The plantar fascia is connected to the achilles which is connected to the calf. Poor ankle movement and tight calves can have an affect on the feet. Stretch your calves several times a day, holding for 20-30 seconds for 2-3 times.

Strengthen the foot muscles. Strengthening the muscles of the posterior tibialis and the little intrinsic muscles can help support the foot. You can do that by sitting on a chair and picking up marbles with your toes or scrunching a towel with your toes.

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Use pressure to massage the foot to relieve the pain. There are two ways to do this: one, freeze a water bottle half full of water and roll your arch over it. This won’t fix the problem, but it will relieve some of the symptoms in the short term. Two, find a small ball like a tennis ball, or, even better, a massage ball and roll the ball under your arch and, if you can, around the heel. Starting and ending the day by rolling your feet is a good practice to get into regardless. By getting the pressure under the plantar fascia, you're working out the trigger points without trying to make changes to the plantar fascia.

Strengthen the muscles around the hips. When hips are weak, knees drop in and feet over-pronate. If you're over-pronating (heavily turning inwards when you walk), you're increasing pressure on the plantar fascia. So if you can strengthen the hips and the chain above the irritated area, you can relieve the pressure from the plantar fascia. Good exercises for the hips are clam shells, hip abductions, laying on your side doing leg lifts, and side planks. Make sure the hips are squared and stacked so that your glutes and core fire.

Wear correctly-fitted, supportive shoes, for both running and everyday wear. Wearing hard shoes, or no shoes will only irritate the problem area. Shoes that are too small or too flexible will not allow the plantar fascia to heal. It’s worth the time, energy, and money to be fitted for a good pair of running/walking shoes. You will notice a difference. Of course, we are here to fit you for shoes at Fast Break Athletics!

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Wear an orthotic that supports the arch. If needed, additional support under the arch can be useful for holding it up so to relieve the tension from the plantar fascia when you step on it. At Fast Break, we carry the PowerStep. It is semi-flexible, and still allows your foot to go through its full range of motion, all while supporting the arch and relieving heel pain. We carry these for both running shoes, and casual shoes or work boots.

Wear a plantar fasciitis night splint. Although it may look like a torture device, have no fear! A night splint keeps the foot dorsiflexed while you sleep, allowing the plantar fascia to heal in a stretched position to avoid the searing pain in your first step in the morning. We also carry these at Fast Break.

CAN I KEEP RUNNING?


This depends on how severe your case of plantar fasciitis is. Rebecca thinks that it’s pointless to tell a runner to stop running, so she aims to only keep a runner off his or her feet for 1-2 weeks if they absolutely need it. But it all depends on the body, feet, and person. Give your feet some rest while you do all of the above, then ease back into running.

If you have done all of the above and still struggle with heel pain, consult your doctor about seeing a physical therapist to assess if there are weaknesses in the body or other factors that could be prolonging the pain.

 

Stop by the shop if you have any other questions about plantar fasciitis!

Spectathletes Guide to Cheering on a Tri

SPECTATHLETE (n.): A person who, without interfering, watches and cheers for athletic events of all levels with remarkable enthusiasm. Often found on the sides of roads employing numerous props such as horns, vuvuzulas, pom-poms, silly hats, silly children, face paint, cowbells, posters, or large foam hands. These fanatical spectators are often characterized by a determination to hit every spot to cheer on their athlete and hoarse voices from excessive yelling.

E.G. - "Those daggum Chattanooga spectathletes done bought up all the cowbells, and now we don't have any for old Bessie to wear!"

 A local spectathlete in his natural habitat.

A local spectathlete in his natural habitat.

Spectating a long distance triathlon requires training, preparation, dedication, and energy. Your athlete might be swimming, biking, and running all in one day in a short period of time, but you have to be in all the right places at the right time saying the right things, balancing waving your foam finger, giant sign, pom-poms, and cowbells all at the same time, then yelling at the top of your lungs only to watch your athlete for twenty seconds or less. But without your support, your athlete could have a rough day. Your encouraging words could bring them out of a funk, they could lift their spirits to soar to the finish line. The stakes are high. Are YOU cut out to be a Spectathlete?

Here are our pro-tips for all aspiring Spectathletes:

WAKE UP EARLY. Beat the crowds. Offer to drive your athlete if they need it. This may mean rolling out of bed at 4:45 am and sherpa carrying his gear to the T1 or T2 (transition 1 or 2). Make some coffee, plaster a smile on your face, and embrace the experience!

KNOW THE COURSE. Take some time the week before to look at the race course and plan the spots you want to cheer from. Notice where roads are closed and where you can or can’t walk. You CANNOT move barricades, so plan before hand your method of movement. Know your athlete’s split time goals, then plan to arrive early and stay later at those spots to make sure you see them. For a half distance triathlon, add 15-20 minute windows. For a long distance triathlon, add 30 minutes.

PACK FOR THE DAY. Just like your triathlete has all her clothes, socks, bike, goggles, and food planned out, so must you. Create a checklist and pack the night before. You will need a costume, cowbells, tutus, pom-poms, air horns, electrolyte mix, water, food, chair, posters, beer, ice, music, speakers, and possibly a tandem bicycle. It’s going to be a long day and there will be lots of downtimes, so pack a book to read or cards to play as well.

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CHEER FOR ANYONE AND EVERYONE. There will be lots of waiting for your triathlete. Don’t stand there quiet and still as the others zoom past. Cheer for everyone! All motivation is helpful! Pick out specific people and yell them on. “Hey dude in green, you’re doing great!” “Yellow shoe girl, keep at it!” “Look at that girl, she’s still smiling! You’ve got this!”

MAKE SIGNS. Words of encouragement whether on signs or posters or notes in your athletes shoes the morning of are a great way to show support. Holding up funny, large posters are a good idea, as long as they are nice. Sometimes humor can bring a good laugh during a long stretch of suffering. Posters like “Worst parade ever!” are a great idea. But avoid phrases like, “You look great.” No, they don’t. They’re covered in sweat and salt and working their hardest, but this isn’t their best look. Rather, encourage them with, “You are strong! You are brave!” or “Keep going! You’ve worked so hard for this!”  

A big no-no is signs and cheers that involve distances. You don’t want to write or yell, “One more mile to go!” when there’s actually 1.2795 miles to go. Athletes count down every foot of a race. Don’t lie or create false hope. Phrases like “you are almost there!” or “so close” are unhelpful. Use general positive affirmation instead.

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CHEER FROM THE SIDELINES. Don’t get into competitors’ faces. Don’t high five unless you know them well, and never jump in front of a competitor! Stay on the side of the road. If you want to be seen by your athlete, wear a big T-Rex costume. Such costumes are also helpful for life in general and receiving a maximal number of high fives. Embrace life. Be a T-Rex.

MAKE SOME NOISE. Pack those cowbells, bring out those loud speakers, buy a giant drum! Sometimes a fast beat is a perfect pick-me-up during the run when there’s more time to listen to it. During the bike, cowbells are a great option to be heard as the bikes whiz by.

TEND TO IMMEDIATE NEEDS POST RACE. When your athlete finishes, he may have temporarily digressed to baby hand signals and giant smiles. Help him up, give him a huge hug, walk him to a chair, hand him water (or a beer) and offer to get his gear. He will be smelly, salt-caked, sweaty, and generally not fit for human contact, but plaster a huge smile on your face (once again) and be excited that he finished!

BRACE YOURSELF FOR ALL THE EMOTIONS. Once words return to her brain, your athlete will want to walk through every single second of her day. Sit down, listen well. She just spent months training for an event that ended within hours. Her body is exhausted and depleted. There may be laughter, tears, snorts, and lots of snot. But stay by her side, listening and appreciating her story of conquering a race.

Spectathlete

You're all set! Gear up and get out here this weekend to cheer on Worlds IRONMAN 70.3 in Chattanooga! Cheer for our own Fast Breaker Seth as he competes! Pull out them cow bells!