The Power of Support

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this weekend’s activities by RunVerity members, we had members running a whole host of different events for a wide variety of reasons. For some it was their first 10k, for others it was an opportunity to run another half marathon, for others the final 20 miler in their marathon training. But the overwhelming feelings that I took away from the weekend was one of support.

I received a large amount of messages and emails after this weekend, messages of thanks, of success, of chalking another run up to experience. I left the New Forest showground feeling happy, content, supported; a real sense of well being.

I’ve been reflecting on what made this weekend so special. One of the key factors for me was watching RunVerity members finish on the homeward stretch at the New Forest event. The power of cheering each other across the finish line when those last 400 meters feels like 400 miles was and always is amazing. Watching the shoulders relax, the posture grow another 2 inches and the arms remembering to “hammer the nail into the wall” all within a nano second of hearing us all cheer their name is always a pleasure.

Within social psychology “The Audience Effect” is a well known phenomena “An audience effect arises when a person’s behaviour changes because they believe someone else is watching them”. And of course in Sport Psychology it is well documented that the presence of a supportive and interactive audience, especially a home court audience ,has a powerful advantage to teams and athletes alike. While many variables may help create a home court advantage, none seem to be as important as the presence of a supportive audience.

I understand how important it is to be there at the end of a race, to cheer everyone in, not only does it “enhance performance” as we saw from many runners on Sunday, but it also makes members feel valued and supported. My curiosity got the better of me, I wanted to find some research to support why there was such a sense of well being after this weekend. Don’t worry I found some;

Five Ways to Well Being

Connect - Feeling close to and valued by people is a fundamental human need.

We connect with eachother in RunVerity, close friendships have formed and by being part of a team, knowing that your team mates are waiting for you at the end makes us feel valued and supported.

Being Active - Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety.

The mileage is not always important, being active is.

Take Notice - Studies show that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well being.

RunVerity members shared with me the amazing scenery from the coastline of South Shields to the coastline of Stokes Bay. From the oldest trees and the hilliest of hills in the UK to the stampeed of horses in the New Forest, we all took notice of what was going on around us.

Learn - The practice of setting goals has been strongly associated with higher levels of well being

Setting goals doesn’t always have to be about time and distance, it can be just about turning up each week.

Give - People with a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.

And the generosity that RunVerity members give to one another is one of the most powerful acts I have ever seen. They way we loop each other on our group runs, how we wait until the last RunVerity runner is in before we go home. The stories I hear of the messages of support you send each other, the kindness in the car sharing, the tea buying, the pinning of numbers on tshirts, the labelling of bags to ensure they are collected by the right person (thank you Lisa).

I think we can safely say we are well on the way to Well Being x

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