How to Be an Effective Crew Member - Page 2Selecting a Crew
Moehl says a good crew member has three primary traits: she is organized, optimistic and nurturing. “But without being ‘a softy,’” she adds.
Organization is critical. In order to succeed, the runner has to be focused on the task at hand—simply running. If a runner is distracted by anything else, he won’t be at his best. It’s the crew member’s job to do the thinking. And, what’s more, to think like the runner.
“You want someone who is capable of attention to detail, so he’ll remember to hand you your favorite cookie at the seventh aid station,” says Jasper Halekas, who placed fourth at last year’s Western States.
And here is where it gets tricky. Even while the crew member is handing his runner a cookie, he has to avoid “babying” the runner. The mind of that runner may be telling hm to quit. The crew member has to veto that thought process and get the athlete to believe in the value of pushing on.
“I pick people who know me and care about me but, more importantly, people who will kick my butt when necessary,” says Smith-Batchen.
Chatfield says there are other important intangibles: “Someone who will allow me to jabber and can put up with my banter. It gets really weird at times.”
Getting the Most from Your Crew
While race-day organization is the responsibility of the crew, pre-race-day planning falls to the runner. Like a dress-rehearsal, this meeting will help ensure that your crew handles things in the manner you want them handled.
“Have a detailed race plan and a list of what you are going to need at each access point,” says Halekas. “Go over it in advance to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
That point is echoed by everyone, some of whom create detailed spreadsheets spelling out their needs for their crew members.
Says Chatfield, “Usually I have everything laid out in advance so all they need to do is follow instructions and give me nutrition when and where I need it.”
Infighting on the crew can lead to an unpleasant day on the trails. That’s why Smith-Batchen takes her pre-race day planning a step further. She creates a hierarchy to limit confusion.
“I pick one person who is the lead crew member. The crew needs to follow my instructions, provide what I need and help me stick to my plan.”