I recently called him my “secret weapon.”
Not everyone has access to one. I get it. I’m super lucky. My husband was nearly born for the thankless and exhausting task of being pit crew.
With a background in racing, a diploma in Massage Therapy, a tendency to extreme preparedness and an uncanny ability to control nearly any situation – John is the guy you want on your crew.
But I feel like a lot of the things we have learned as a team over these years can be learned… and I thought I’d do my best to get them out there in this top five list.
1 – Give your Spouse a Pass
One of these rounds, your spouse is going to come in – and you won’t even recognize the person they’ve become. One or two hours and they’ll transform into some heinous combination of Sophie from the Golden Girls and a teething baby. In the molar stage. That’s ok. You’ve got this. They’ll find their way back to themselves again. Just give them time, space and a hall pass to act like the Creature from the Blue Lagoon. And whatever you do, don’t take it personally. They just cursed out a wall made entirely of wood.
2 – Know your Athlete
You may know your spouse… but your athlete might be a very different person from them. Some athletes need gentle guidance, some might need a very firm enforcer. Once you figure this out, it’ll be a whole lot easier driving them to their goal and staying in the control seat.
3 – Listen Carefully but Take Control
If you run long enough, your brain starts becoming deficient in carbohydrates. And intelligent thought.
They may be overheating because they jumped into their 4 mil wetsuit prematurely and the temperate never dropped. They feel fluish and lethargic. They’re sweating and their skin is beet red. And yet, they still can’t put their finger on it. More neoprene maybe?
You’re dealing with Ralph Wiggum here. Deep breaths. They’ll thank you once they start feeling better.
4 – Prepare and Anticipate
OK so Ralph comes in 30 minutes before sun-down, and is probably thinking headlamps and strobes, but hopefully you are. Best case scenario, you have a rough chart in terms of what your athlete needs and at what approximate times. If not, get them to make you one.
Of course, it always helps to look a little farther down the pipe when your athlete is just focused on that very next step. It’ll everything a whole lot smoother for everyone.
I like to have things ready for my pit crew for situations I can see arising. Sand storm? Hand me these goggles. Colder than anticipated? Start with the items in this bag and then move to this bag if I start turning blue. Encourage your spouse to go over all the “if’s and when’s” in advance, write it down and go over it with you in detail before the gun goes off.
5- Take Care of Yourself
It’s cliche but… put your own oxygen mask on first. Make sure you’re fuelling, hydrating and moving around when your athlete is out on course. You may even be able to catch a quick cat nap if laps are long enough or you have a pitting partner. Just like knowing your athletes needs, you need to consider your own. If you’re a voracious reader, bring some books… if you’re a social butterfly, pit with a group. The better mood you’re in, the better care you’ll be able to take of your spouse.
Lastly, have fun and celebrate in the success of your spouse. There’s nothing quite as magical as completing a challenging race with the full support of your partner. It’s pretty cool to get to share adventures with the person you love most.