Best motivational and enthusiastic cheers for race spectators to use?
July 28, 2013 12:28 PM   Subscribe

"You got this!" "Looking good! Looking strong!" "Keep it going, almost there!" I have a few solid cheers up my sleeve, but looking for that quick one-liner that would help YOU feel supported while you make it to the finish line.

Cheering for strangers at a race is a truly rewarding experience. (This article captures the spirit of race spectating quite well.) But I need more things to yell out besides the obvious "Good job!" "Keep going!" "You can do it!"

What would give YOU a boost? I'm especially looking for things that could feel like they were tailored to an individual, yet generic enough that they could be used for many people. For example, "You're killing it!" works nicely for someone running particularly fast (or someone passing other people) but "Looking strong! You got this!" is maybe better for someone who's clearly struggling, but still pushing through.

I've also seen this thread, which gives great ideas for spectactor signs.

Here's my list so far (mix-n-match!):
- You got this!
- Looking good!
- Looking strong!
- Keep it going!
- Almost there!
- You're killing it!
- Way to go! Way to run!
- You've got it in the bag!
- Keep it strong!

Semi-related PSA: Smaller races rarely have much support along the course, and I have noticed (both as a runner and a spectator) that many/most of the people that do show up on the sidelines are often waiting to cheer on their one friend. It requires some amount of shamelessness (especially if there's no one else cheering nearby) but cheering for everyone is pretty flippin' rad, and really helps to establish a sense of community. Do it!!
posted by ariela to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My two favorite things to hear when I run a race are "You can do it! and "You're awesome!"

Personalized is good too. I ran a race overseas wearing an old Seattle race Tshirt and it was very uplifting to hear, "Go Seattle!" Also, if you spot someone in the dark purple of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society runners, yell "Go Team!"
posted by bearwife at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At my most recent 5K, as I was power-walking up a hill, struggling to breathe, and feeling like I just wanted the race to be over already, a random guy on the sidelines looked directly at me and said, "I'm proud of you."

I have no idea who he was, but I thanked him for saying that, since it made me feel so much better about myself at the moment. It meant a lot to me, and I'll definitely use it myself the next time I'm cheering on strangers in a race.
posted by sabira at 12:37 PM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I came in to say personalization. "Girl in blue" is good, "guy with sunglasses", stuff like that.

IMHO, "Go Team" is one of the most annoying things at any race, however. There is a ton of criticism against Team in Training for a lot of things, but one of the worst things is that they only cheer for their runners, and are completely silent when anyone else runs by. It's horrible and demotivating.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:38 PM on July 28, 2013

On the personalization note, you could add a runner's number to the end of whatever cheer. I've had people shout "Yeah! 541!" and not think anything of it, then half a mile later realize that I AM #541 and it picks me up.
posted by thewestinggame at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

The first race I ran, strangers yelled "Nice work, runner!" a lot. It was a pleasant surprise. Also, even though it was a little odd to be addressed as "runner," it helped me think "yeah, I am a runner! I'm one of them!"

I'd avoid "looking good," since it could be interpreted as a comment on one's attractiveness. But other than that, the generic keep going/you're doing great/etc. cheers are just fine. Don't overthink it; it's the act of cheering that counts.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:47 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

My favorite sign held up by a spectator in a race I was running in was one with black block letters saying GENERIC MOTIVATION.
posted by octothorpe at 1:11 PM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The context is a little different, but when I was in labor, the most helpful thing for me to hear was not "You can do it!" but "You ARE doing it!"
posted by KathrynT at 1:34 PM on July 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I became an accidental race cheerer a few months ago. I was house-sitting for some friends and I got up one morning with plans to run errands only to discover that the biggest race of the year in our city was currently in progress on the street, blocking my car in for the next hour or so. At first, I sat in my car, scowling and cursing the runners under my breath, but then I decided to sit on the hood of my car and yelled:

1) You're a rockstar!
2) You're so amazing!
3) I'm so proud of you!
4) Good morning!
5) Work it, ladies (or dudes)!
6) You've got this! You can do it!

until there was a slight lull in the crowd and I could drive away. It was really fun, the runners were very appreciative and I gained a lot of respect for what they do.
posted by chara at 1:39 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can never go wrong with a good old fashioned "Woooooooo!"
posted by colin_l at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2013

My favorite sign held up by a spectator in a race I was running in was one with black block letters saying GENERIC MOTIVATION.

In that vein, the sign I saw on a bike race saying "YAY RANDOM STRANGER!" really cheered me up. Not only was it funny, but it really underlined that those guys were just out there to cheer on whoever. Incredibly heartwarming.

I did one charity bike ride that involved raising a reasonable chunk of money to enter, and there were a lot of people just yelling "THANK YOU!" and "WE'RE PROUD OF YOU", which, again, nearly reduced me to bawling on the bike - Race endorphins + exhaustion + the random kindness of strangers is a funny (but awesome) mix.

For me, I'd actually advise against yelling too much at the actual finish line, and just clap and wave. In running races I am usually too exhausted and running on fumes with tunnel vision, and too much yelling is actually sort of unnerving.

At the 2/3 - 3/4 mark, though, or on tough hills - it's really, really appreciated.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:43 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Positive mental talk!
posted by release the hardwoods! at 2:46 PM on July 28, 2013

I went for a difficult run this afternoon, and the friend I was running with yelled "PANCAKES PANCAKES PANCAKES" when she noticed I was looking particularly fatigued. This was extremely effective because it made me a) giggle and b)think about pancakes rather than how exhausted I was.

Whether you want to be the person screaming random nouns at strangers on the sidelines is up to you.
posted by coppermoss at 2:55 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Who's kicking ass? BLUE HAT GUY IS KICKING ASS!
posted by craven_morhead at 3:11 PM on July 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

From a runner's perspective, I have to say, nothing specific really necessary, it's all good. And thank you for doing it.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:34 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Years ago we got a copy of the theme from Rocky to play for friends running a marathon, but we had so much fun and people loved it so much that we ended up coming back in the years after and playing it.

Yelling something personalized like above, and I found that sometimes throwing in things like "I love your shoes #817!" or something else like that will get a smile too.
posted by goggie at 3:46 PM on July 28, 2013

Thank you for cheering! I agree that personalizing and saying that you're proud of someone are both great. My coach used to say, you look beautiful, which may not work for/from everyone but it made sense from him.

I would avoid "almost there!" unless you're actually near the end of the race. Otherwise, I hear it and think, am I, I'm not, crap. Along the same lines, please don't lie. My friend's wife cheered during a half/full marathon "there's hot chocolate at the finish!" There was not. By the end of the race, it was snowing. If I had any energy left, I would have given her a piece of my mind.

Another sign I've seen at a few raced that I liked was "WORST PARADE EVER. YMMV (literally).
posted by kat518 at 3:48 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Last 5K I did, there were a group of frat-type dudes hanging out on the sideline doing group cheerleader-style cheers and chants for random racers. You'd be surprised how nice a "LET'S GO BLUE SHIRT LET'S GO (CLAP CLAP)" is. It helped that they were obviously drunk and having a blast but the sentiment was appreciated.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:08 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just did a 15k as my first race and really, ANYTHING supportive anyone said was appreciated! I also really liked high-fives from folks along the way (people who are actually running to win may not go for that as much) and personalization. I was running as part of my Y team and for the Y with a charity bib, so I also got lots of "Go Y!" and "We love the Y!" type stuff.
posted by stefnet at 6:33 PM on July 28, 2013

Best answer: My favorite sign was "1/4 mile to go!" (Adjust to where you'll be standing, of course.)

Though I also really enjoyed seeing a friend with a sign saying "Way to go" -- it wasn't the sign so much as that she was standing at a fairly empty part of the race and cheering on every single person who passed. (And as this was a kid's marathon, and me and my kid were at the slow end of it, even more awesome.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:03 PM on July 28, 2013

Best answer: I did my very first triathlon recently, and the best cheer I got, during the run, was, "Look at those tanlines! You've been training!"
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

"You're killing it!" works nicely for someone running particularly fast

If they understand it as a compliment... people of different ages and cultures may not see it that way at all, and might find this sort of slang insulting or threatening.
posted by yohko at 7:21 PM on July 28, 2013

Best answer: I LOVE cheering at races.

I usually go with "looking strong, runner!" and "great work, runner!" but I've been known to holler "YOU ARE WICKED AWESOME" and "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW AWESOME YOU ARE RIGHT NOW" to runners.

Near the finish line, you could go with "Almost there - finish strong!"
posted by elmer benson at 7:55 PM on July 28, 2013

Response by poster: Oh man, definitely a bunch of things I hadn't thought of -- Thank you!! Please keep 'em coming if you got 'em!

Edit: I marked a few responses as "best answer," though they're really all great suggestions. You guys are AWESOME! Keep going! You got this!!! :P
posted by ariela at 10:11 PM on July 28, 2013

I think serious runners are already giving effort beyond normal levels so probably nothing will help them as they are already giving all they can.

But for people not already killing themselves any good positive sounding words can help.
posted by tarvuz at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2013

I love being cheered on when I do long event bike rides! "Nice work!" is a nice one to hear. I like the "Woohoo!"s and the "Go girl!"s, too. I also like the cowbells a lot, but I think that's more of a cycling thing.

Really any sort of general positive cheering is welcome, BUT: there's a kind of cheer I don't like, that that's when the cheerer is pointing out that I'm struggling (whether or not I actually am), or that the ride is harder for me or I deserve extra praise for doing it because I'm a plus-sized woman. It's also absolutely 100% my problem and the burden of it shouldn't be put on awesome people like you who are going out of their way to encourage people who are doing something hard that we love. But please do keep it in mind if you see a runner or cyclist with a non-traditionally-athletic body and/or who appears to be struggling and you have the urge to say "You got this!" when you're just telling everyone else they're rockstars.

Also, there is a special place in Hell for people who think it's funny to shout "This is the last one!" at the top of the hill when there are 3 more to go, or "Just half a mile left" when there are still miles to go.
posted by rhiannonstone at 5:24 PM on July 29, 2013

Back on a positive note, for charity rides it's also really nice to hear and see signs that say "Thank you."
posted by rhiannonstone at 5:30 PM on July 29, 2013

For what it's worth, I run-walk, meaning I usually run for about five minutes, then walk a minute for my races. That's how I train and that's how I race. More often than not, walking is part of my race plan. If you see someone just start walking, it doesn't mean that they're tired, that might just be part of their race plan. So cheering for me extra hard is nice but unnecessary.

And please don't get in people's faces. At one of my last races, someone was literally yelling in my face, inches away from me. I kept running - what else was I going to do? - but that freaked me out.
posted by kat518 at 11:14 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

1. If you want to give distance-related updates, make sure they are somewhat accurate. When I'm running in the last mile, I'm rationing every bit of energy to make the best time I can, and accurate distances are all that I can think about.

2. Not a verbal cheer, but I kinda like cowbells. It makes me think I'm Alberto Tomba doing the Giant Slalom.

3. I wear a Tilley Hat when running as a sunshade. I'll always take "Yay, go, guy in the hat!" as a compliment.

Jason (the guy in the hat)
posted by jason6 at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2013

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