Often times when I cross a finish line- whether it be a 5k or even something a bit longer, I think the same thought– “I could have just run that myself around the neighborhood and saved myself xx amount of dollars.” Each time I go back to that thought and really weigh the real reason as to why I “race” and why every runner also should participate in races. Running races is how I got my start to running and still the reason I love it so much today! Below I have highlighted 5 reasons that I think every runner should race!
- Friendly Competition. Lets be honest, whether you are super competitive or not really at all (like me), one thing I love to see is how I stack up against others in my age group. While moving up to the 30 and older category has not been easy so far, it will push me to try a littler harder! Along with the age group categories another way that racing can bring about some competition is the ever-popular sprint to the end or the “picking runners off” strategy. While I am not one to really enjoy that final push or sprint, I have found that picking out runners to try and pass near the end of the race has helped take off a few seconds from my race times (thanks Courtney). Sprinting makes me want to throw up, so pushing myself a little harder to “beat the guy in yellow” is more my style!
- Goal to Work Towards. Before any race or any distance I give myself some kind of finishing goal. Whether that goal be to simply “finish” like it was in Annapolis due to stomach issues and no sleep, or for a sub whatever, racing gives me goals to work towards. I typically have multiple half marathons scheduled throughout the year to keep me focused and keep planned longer runs on my calendar. Doing a long run is something I have really started to enjoy and I think it is because they are usually easy and slow- while easy and slow is great, racing makes me push myself a little harder and adds the competitive element that is never present during a regular training run. Races have helped me log way more miles than I ever imagined I would and kept me focused!
- Keeps Me Moving. If I think about my past running, the only thing that kept me moving was the fact that I had signed up for some kind of race. As I have progressed and matured into my running lifestyle I do not necessarily need races to encourage me to go out and run, however knowing I have a ten-miler in the upcoming weeks has helped me to continue to do longer runs.
- Get Inspired. The one thing I love the most about racing is to see the different types of people- moms pushing strollers (a personal favorite), little kids running, grandparents, first time racers, and the list goes on. Everyone has a different reason for racing and hearing/seeing others inspiration always brings a smile to my face. One recent racing moment was a gentlemen telling me this was his first race post-back surgery. I can only imagine his nerves before the race, but he was out there killing it.
- Push the Limits. Participating in a race is the #1 way for me to see just how fast I can go. While yes the start of a race can be congested, running a race pushes me to my limits. It makes me run much faster than a normal run around town and really shows me what I am capable of and excites me for what is next!
Why do you run races? Do you think they are necessary or a waste of money?