Not all runners have a wonderful support system who understands when they take off for hours at a time to get long runs in on the weekends or spend hundreds of dollars on one race. Those of us who do, count our lucky stars.
Having supportive friends and or family is important. Why? Because running can be hard. There will be times when you lose your motivation. There will be times when you want to celebrate and you should be celebrating.
Supportive family and friends offer you the chance to improve even when they don’t really know anything about running because they give you a sounding board. They may be able to give you new ideas because they see it from outside the running box. If they do know about running or are runners themselves, they probably like to talk about running stuff: new gear, new shoes, upcoming races, training strategies and so on.
You can build and adjust what you are doing based on their experiences about training, particular/similar races, injuries, fueling, and preparing (other than running) for a race.
How do you handle the lack of support? If you’re support system is just indifferent to you, it’s much easier than if they actively oppose your running hobby.
If they’re indifferent and don’t show up to your races, don’t take any interest in your accomplishments, or just project an attitude of we don’t care, find people who do care and who are supportive. Get involved with the running community more. You don’t have to abandon your family or friends who just don’t get it, but you do need to find a support system that does for all the reasons stated above.
If they actively oppose you, seek understanding first. Friends are unlikely to actively oppose your running. They may give you a hard time about it once in a while. Active opposition comes from family and significant others.
Find out what it is about your running that they don’t like: the time commitment, concerns for your health, the cost, or feeling like an outsider.
Provide information to address their concerns.
I can’t count how many times people have told me running as much as I do is not healthy. I send them the research that says it is and I explain what it does for me personally regarding physical and mental health.
Running can be expensive, especially, if you are running multiple 100 mile races at about $300 a pop just for registration. Then there is gear, food, travel costs, and shoes, just to name a few things. This one is obviously going to be a potential issue with significant others who share financial resources. You’re going to have to compromise and explain why running is so important to you. Encourage your other half to engage in a hobby. Make sure you are not using all the extra spending money for your running. Help them feel like they are a part of your running experience and team.
If they are “jealous” because they feel like an outsider around your running friends or when you talk about running (because you do and you use running metaphors to teach life lessons), get them involved. Include them with planning races and choosing races. Pick places they want to see. Try not to use inside jokes around them, unless you’re ready to explain. Help them learn the terminology.
The big one is the time commitment. This one can become a sore spot for the runner too when they have conflicting desires. It’s always a balance. Try to choose times when your family is engaged in another activity where you can’t really be such as working, school, or asleep. This works well when you have young children. Help the other person understand the benefit running has on you and how that impacts your relationships. Everyone needs time for themselves to recharge and breathe. If you don’t take care of your own needs, then you cannot be fully present for others. Be willing to adjust things for important events the other person has. Get them involved with your running. They could meet you along your run for refueling or lunch. They could run a portion of the route with you. Both of these work even on training runs. Make sure you are contributing to family chores and other “unpleasant but necessary” activities as much as the others. Try scheduling a down season and commit to spending more time with the family. Make sure you are taking your rest week every fourth week and make an effort to spend quality time with those you love.