The Gift of Cheerleading

When I first started running, I set BIG, SCARY goals for myself and told EVERYONE. Literally.

At the time, I was a fitness writer for The Boston Globe, and had set a goal to run a marathon — and I set that goal without even ever having run 3 miles in a row.

And because I didn’t care if I failed or not, I was just going to go for it, people cheered me on.

People sent me books to read about running.

They left me suggestions on my blog for various run-related products they loved.

They even hopped off their couch and “ran” with me virtually, sharing their daily mileage with me in tweets and photos on Instagram.

“Hey, this is GREAT,” I thought. “Runners are so friendly! No one cares I’m the slowest out there, they are just cheering me on!”

Imagine if every time you shared a goal or something big with anyone you knew they would cheer you on — how wonderful would you feel? It would feel like you had someone in your corner, like they were rooting for you and your crazy-ass goals.

But for most things in life, we don’t do that.

Instead, we are met with “Ugh, why would you want to do that?”

“Really, that sounds miserable.” Or my personal favorite Negative Nancy comment “You won't be able to do THAT.”

So I’ve noticed something happening, slowly but surely, and it impacts me directly and I’ve noticed it with friends (whether they are runners or not)… People are sharing their big, scary goals less, and have NO cheerleaders in their corner because no one knows what they are goal-digging these days.

There are many, many things we do alone in this world, and we all experience different things, but should we start depriving ourselves of the chance to have cheerleaders just because we are afraid we might fail, or we might have Monday Morning water-cooler fodder for Negative Nancy?

Instead of commenting for anyone in your life when they are taking on something you deem scary, impossible, or crazy, I challenge you to cheer for them.

instead of “Ugh, why would you want to do that?” Try “Wow, what an endeavor!”

Rather than “Really, that sounds miserable.” How about “I admire your fearlessness!”

And instead of “You won’t be able to do THAT,” let’s try “I cannot wait to watch your journey.”

Being a cheerleader for other people — and yourself — is a gift.

It doesn’t cost anything. It just takes one deep breath and remembering that everyone deserves a high five at the end of a race.

Well that and a place to put their feet up.

Our friend Kristen, getting a high-five at Mile 18 of the Boston Marathon.

Our friend Kristen, getting a high-five at Mile 18 of the Boston Marathon.

Elizabeth Carr