How To Cope With Unsupportive Family Members Who Don’t Run

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Ways to cope with unsupportive family members includes open communication and finding a supportive community. How To Cope With Unsupportive Family Members Who Don’t Run

A pack of smiling faces cheers and jumps up and down as the runner sprints to the finish line. The hoard of people heads towards the athlete as they run into each other’s embrace. But not every runner is so lucky to have a supportive team behind them. The reality is that many runners have unsupportive family members and friends who don’t understand why it is that we run.

Running is one of the healthiest things we decide to do for ourselves. It is a great way to exercise, lose weight, and stay active. It also is great for the mind, providing a way to de-stress and clear the head from bad days and bad moods. But not having a support system can actually making running a challenge—more than it already is for the body and mind. However, there are ways that runners can cope with those who just don’t get us.

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash.

Run For You

We decide to take up running for a reason. And that reason should be rooted in you. Run for yourself and no one else. This means continuing to run no matter if family members and friends have negative things to say about it. While it should be that they are proud and encouraging that you are running to better yourself, many just don’t see it that way. Even though it can be hard to constantly fight back the criticism, try not to let it stop you on your journey. Instead, use it as fuel during your next run. Running does make us stronger, so continue on.

Try talking about your passion with those who don’t understand it. Explain why you run, the benefits you feel and why it’s important to you. Sometimes all it takes is an explanation for those who don’t get why it’s meaningful to the runner. Ignore the negative comments and try to educate that running doesn’t give a person “bad knee’s.” Even if that person isn’t a runner they could learn to value how you see the sport. Other times the person is totally against it. Having coping skills like practicing acceptance and learning when to listen is key. Here them out, and see what the problem is. We all have different likes and dislikes and that’s okay.

Mom Guilt

Runners who have children might even feel guilty for going for a run when they can be with their child. However, it is important that we take care of ourselves—children or not. In fact, self-care can make us better parents since we are less stressed and anxious, and more positive and happy thanks to all those endorphins released. Plus it’s setting a healthy example for the little ones. And it’s even healthy to have a bit of separation from mom or dad for the kids. Being away for an hour will not ruin the child’s life, but instead, teach them to be more independent and build closer bonds with the caretaker who steps in.

Photo by Nathalie Désirée Mottet on Unsplash.

Those who have unsupportive spouses should remind their significant other about these facts. Remind them if there is a hobby they enjoy and how you support them in that venture. Make a schedule so that both can do the things they enjoy either solo or together as a family with the kids. This can include asking them to bring the kids to a 5k that has a fun run for little ones or post-race fun for the family like inflatables or face painting. Better yet, how about planning for a celebratory breakfast or brunch post-race that can serve as a great way to get the whole family together.

Plan It Right

Some might think that is selfish to take time away to focus on running. But when planned correctly, there are enough hours in a day to run and be present for all obligations. Of course, there are times when personal relationships might suffer. This is true when training for a marathon and needing to wake up early for that 20-mile run. So, instead of meeting friends for drinks, it’s best to get to bed on time. Just make sure to make plans with friends after a long run or on a rest day.

When it comes to working, runners have to rise before the sun sometimes to get in that run or lacing up afterward. We find ways to fit it in. Set up a running schedule each week so you know what days you are running and for how long. Then set the time of the run and stick to the schedule. Being organized and practicing time management will allow for free time with family and friends. It will also give the runner a more clear picture of when they are available before making plans. Dedicate time on the weekend post run with the family. Plan an activity to do as a family so that those relationships don’t feel like they come second on the runner’s agenda.

Find Other Support Systems

Photo by aquachara on Unsplash.

Know that you aren’t alone when it comes to having unsupportive family members. While it can be hurtful to feel like there is no one on your team, this is not the case. There are plenty of other runners out there that will rally for you. Connect with a local running community and make other running friends. Not only does it help to have a running buddy while doing long distance, but it also helps to have someone who understands what it’s like to be a runner.

Joining running groups on social media is another great way to “meet” other runners and share successes and disappointments. Many of these communities are inspiring, relatable and a great source of support.


  1. Heather | Relentless Forward Commotion , When Your Loved Ones Don’t Support Your Running, Running Blog