This weekend thousands of people will pull on their trainers and to take part in the Virgin Sport ASICS London 10k.
They’ll pace their way around a course that circumnavigates central London, passing some famous spots like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Although you may feel inclined to stay home and grab an extra hour of lie-in, research suggests you’ll feel great if you get out there and cheer the runners on.
Even if you haven’t trained, and you’d prefer to spend your weekend eating waffles at brunch, you should head to the race. Studies have shown that supporting athletes in events can actually boost your mental health (and is great for the people participating in the too).
Why you should support
As well as giving you a mental health boost, cheering on a crowd can actually make you a better runner. Researchers from Minnesota State University found that those who frequently supported other runners in races, performed better when they ran themselves. By watching a race, you’ll start to observe how others run, and watch different ways you could complete a similar circuit.
An article in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also found that your stress levels decrease if you support other athletes.
Studies that have shown working out in a crowd can boost your mental health, would suggest that getting together to cheer on a group of strangers would bring out the feel-good endorphins too. It brings out our primal instincts, improves our sense of community and boosts our mental health at the same time.
How you can support
First things first, make it a fun group activity. Invite a few friends and family members to come to the event, and spend the morning before the race making a banner. If nothing else, you’ll bond as a group over how great/terrible the banner looks.
Plan what you’re going to call out. “You’re almost a quarter of the way” might be less motivational than you think. “Go faster” screamed in an encouraging way with two big thumbs up could work, as could “You’re doing great” and making comments about “Nearly time to get that pint.” Afterall, most runners will have that celebratory drink on their minds as they power their way around the course.
Sometimes, just being present can really spur people on. No-one wants to slack if there’s people watching.
Where you can watch
This is a race crammed with big-hitting London sights, so there are plenty of places to find a perch to soak up the vibe while supporting your mates. Position yourself along the mile-long Mall route, or spur the runners on along Whitehall as they approach the finish line.
There’s entertainment along the route too, which will help motivate both you and the runners. The Drum Works are there at the start of the race to set that pace while a brass band and a DJ will power athletes along after the fifth kilometre.
Motivational messages from friends and families will be displayed across big screens along the course.
Catch the Virgin Sport ASICS 10k July 21st. For more information visit Virgin Sport.