There are many many reasons TO run races. They can be really very motivational and being surrounded by so many amazing and supportive fellow runners can be a great experience and very inspirational. But during my mini hiatus from running I considered the race I have coming up and the pressure that can put on me. I signed up for that race long before my injury or my dog passing and all the other stresses life’s thrown at me and us over the last few months. And it’s a length I’ve never even tried before, a half marathon. I’ve done one 10-miler before but usually I do 5K’s, maybe a couple 7 or 8K’s thrown in through the year. But not even in training have I ever done a half marathon. The last time I even walked something that distance was likely the slow walk we did through our Disney excursions. So a half marathon is a little intimidating.
There is something to be said to be in the crowd waiting for the horns or whistles to start a race. There is an energy that can be addictive. It has nothing to do with competing. It’s the vibe of all these athletes (yes you are an athlete if you are in a race, or even running for that matter) who have trained, prepared, anticipated and usually woke very early to line up with everyone in the wee hours of morning. It’s a camaraderie. And it gets your adrenaline pumping.
That preparation you do before a race is a huge motivator for many. For me it’s been both a source of inspiration and specific time to focus on improving my pace and form. It’s the thing that makes you lace up your shoes on days you’d just like to stay in bed with the covers over your eyes. Those cold mornings can be rough, and the hot afternoon sun mid summer is brutal. But still, you have that date ingrained in your head and you gotta keep pushing.
Most races your entry fee is for a charity and that for me is a big reason to do races. I think I do races more for that reason than any other. It’s such a win win. You help a charity with your entry fee and yet you get a shirt, a medal, a piece of fruit, or more (hot chocolate races are awesome from what I hear) AND you get to race yourself, test yourself and your capabilities.
LIVE music! Or at least radio stations playing music. What a rush that is for me. Music is a big motivator for me. I only wish that the Rock & Roll was done more towards the winter months. Great music, but sooooo humid usually. And I don’t take the humidity well. So instead I usually volunteer for that one, and many others in the dead of summer heat. I am not a summer runner!
Some people actually thrive on running neck and neck with another in a race. For a few it really is competitive, especially when you become one of the fastest in an area, or a specific race. But still, it’s usually that competition with self. But running alongside others can be a push for you, especially when you start to drag. Usually I always keep someone who stands out who is going just a little faster than my pace, and I make myself keep up with them. And if I pass them, I focus on another who stands out. It all helps with focus, especially when I start to hit a wall and my legs just want me to stop. I look for that person and it becomes tunnel vision until I get over that hump.
Camaraderie! When you run with a team you don’t all necessarily run “together”. But you do have team members spread around the course who are out there giving you support and keeping an eye on you. Plus before and after the race, getting together with your team makes for a double the fun of the day! Some teams train together. The RWB runs together, and does cross-training together. Some times we do rock wall climbing or yoga too. Many bigger races have training teams for half marathons and marathons.
I love race expo’s! Packet pick up day is a fun time. Especially if you like shopping or trying out new gear. Often you can grab a great deal and learn about new advancements in gear and tech.
Or Not To Race
Some people shouldn’t run races. Plain and simple. For some it’s added pressure that takes away from the shear joy of the run. And the spontaneity of place and distance. Many runners and I’m one of those, especially when on a trail like to stop and take in nature, snap some pictures, enjoy the experience of feeling the air around me and the sights before me.
For others signing up for a race, no matter how much you know you’re only in competition with yourself, let the pressure of others running along with them dull the experience of the run. Then what’s the point of even running? You have to find joy. Or as RunJunkEes® say, “Find The magic In The Misery”. If it’s not fun, you’re just going to stop, so don’t do what makes you unhappy with your run.
I’ve talked to a few who just don’t like the crowds or the noise that events bring with them. While others feed off the rush of all that energy around them. I am a huge fan of the music. I like music when I walk or run. No chatting, just me, nature and music. Usually races like half marathons require a training schedule of some kind and some people just enjoy their runs to be more spur of the moment and unplanned. A free spirit approach, letting the run flow where it will free of constraint.
Weather can be iffy for some people living in certain areas making training for races difficult. Some see this as opportunity to toughen up and face the flurries or downpours. Not to mention some areas get pretty humid in the summer months. If I lived in Florida I would only run at night. But some see these weather obstacles as difficult to try and juggle specific training plans.
Not every charity is one you may want to donate to. I have one I will not run (no names will be mentioned here) because I personally don’t like how their monies are allocated through the charity. So I never run that race, ever. I don’t even volunteer for it.
And finally, my big pet peeve with races. I am not a morning person, not one bit. And getting up early for anything other than my job is always a constant mental battle with me. Most races you have to be out there before the sun even comes up. And on the weekend some times, that is just not sounding fun to me.
So seriously, do what makes you happy and what makes you love your run and find excitement in your training. Running or race walking is trial and error. To run pavement or trails, races or no races, method of run training, etc… It’s all about makes you enjoy what you do. Running is not a competition and it’s not something that should be scary or torturous. It should be challenging yet fun. So get some good quality shoes fitted for you and lace up and get out there. Every step you take is another accomplishment and better health. Adding years to your life and life to your years. Above all else…
personal opinion from personal experience – Not advice from an expert 👍🏼