Since my mom has been in the hospital, I’ve been doing a lot of walking back and forth between her apartment in Hyde Park, Chicago (where I’m staying) and the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she is recovering. In those 20-minute walks to and fro the hospital, I’ve become sort of addicted to listening to TED Talks to pass the time. If you don’t know what TED (Technology Entertainment Design) Talks are, they are brief 5- to 19-minute insightful talks by experts in a multitude of fields discussing a vast array of topics.

Happiness and Endurance Athletes

Yesterday I came across one TED Talk by Michael Norton, about “How to buy happiness”. To sum up, he says that countless studies have proven that people are happier when they use their money to buy things for other people. This got me thinking about how to make endurance athletes and their support groups happier. With all the sacrifice that can go on when training intensely for a marathon, Ironman, Spartan, ultra marathon, century ride, open water swim, etc., I think both the endurance athlete and his/her support group (family, friends, work colleagues and training partners) need a bit of a reminder from each other on how important they all are in this journey.

Athletes to their Support Group

I know you are doing all of the physical work out their on the roads, in the gym or traversing through the trails, but let’s not forget that your spouse is dealing with the kids while you’re on your 5-hour long Sunday rides, that your buddy got up extra early for you to help with your 20-mile run, that your friend learned how to cook and prepare better meals for your training regimen or that because you crashed on the couch for a 3-hour nap after your Saturday workout, your fiance ended up doing the grocery shopping for both of you, once again; this list can go on-and-on. And while they are happy to do all of these things for you, because they realize how important it is for you to reach this personal goal, let’s give them gifts of appreciation from time-to-time. Understand, it’s not how much you spend that matters here, but just that you make a heartfelt gesture to them.

Here are some gift ideas:

  • Buy your husband a round of golf for him and his buddies on a Sunday – and you watch the kids
  • Take your wife out to a show or play she’s wanted to see for months
  • A spa day for your spouse
  • Hire a cleaning service to help with the chores for that week
  • Flowers
  • Pick up dinner on the way home for the family
  • Take the kids to a movie they want to see
  • Go out for ice cream
  • A book your friend has been meaning to read
  • Etc.

While I realize these aren’t earth-shattering or unique gift ideas, the point here is for you to think beyond yourself and find ways and ideas that will matter to your support group. You’ll find by giving gifts to others that you’ll feel happier about your life, which may trickle down to a more positive attitude to your overall training.

Support Group to their Endurance Athlete

While you are already emotionally supporting your endurance athlete, we are talking in this post more about happiness related to money. So, what sort of things can you give your endurance athlete that he/she will appreciate, and by doing so will make you a happier person, overall. Remember, it’s not how much you spend, but that you just give some thought to your gift.

Here are some gift ideas:

  • Racing bike
  • Running shoes
  • Workout outfit
  • Watch
  • One of those 13.1, 26.2, etc. bumper stickers
  • Motivational posters
  • Books on endurance training
  • Race registrations
  • Gloves, arm warmers or hat
  • Fuel belt or water bottle
  • Hire a coach
  • Swim goggles
  • Tune-up for his/her bike
  • Box of energy bars
  • Case of energy drinks
  • Blender
  • Etc.

As is was with the previous gift list, these aren’t remarkable ideas I’m giving you, but rather just a starting point for you to consider. By giving your endurance athlete these gifts, really invests you more in his or her journey, and thus you find more happiness and fulfillment in your life.

So, let’s all just start giving to each other for no reason, other than the fact that it feels good to give and subsequently we have learned today, that it makes us happier when we do.

Happy Giving!

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