Monday, April 6, 2015

Why Race

I know I briefly touched upon the subject of road races in an earlier blog. It was more of a look back at my 'racing career'. I may not have run in many races, but I've had fun. There are some runners who will never run in a road race. I suspect there are as many reasons as there are runners. Perhaps they were turned off from competition early in their running career. As well, they run for the recreation and the health benefits and not to enter some sort of competition. Or they consider the entry fee as a bit much no matter what, it's money that could be put to other things and not to a road race.

I want to make you think about what you're thinking and consider getting involved in a road race. There are a number of good reasons to find that race and sign up. In the end you'll be thankful you did and you will quickly sign up for another one, and another one.

Reasons to Enter a Race:

1) You will be with other runners. I saw in a recent issue of Runner's World the fact that 88% of all runners are solo runners. Look around, how many times do you see runners in groups of two or more. As a solo runner I can assure you, they are the very few and far between. Most of us run by ourselves. It's not that we're anti-social. Sometimes we'll meet up with another runner and we will have a good time, so good we will runner why we don't do this group thing more often. If you're one of those group runners, or a member of a running club, please drop me a line, I'm interested in hearing about your experience. So you're a solo runner, a race helps you to connect with other runners and puts you in a place where you are the Majority. You can talk casually to other runners and they will understand your comments and lingo. Plus when you get to the finish line and have those people cheer you on, it is a great feeling.

2) It will help with goals and training. Having something on the calendar can be your motivator to get out and keep going. As with all of life, there are those ebbs and flows, the times when you are so very gung-ho and times when you would rather become the couch potato you've been running away from all these years. If your motivation and desire needs a kick, sign up for a race. Once you pay your money, you have the motivation.

3) A good way to judge your training. When someone tells me they've just run their first race, I always congratulate them and tell them they now have a benchmark for future races. The first race will be fun and good and you will have a time. That time now will be the standard of your training and the mark to beat each year. The next time you run that same race, you can discover how well you've trained or what you need to improve. If you time is better, then give yourself a slap on the back, you've gotten better. It's where you test your mettle. The late George Sheehan had a lot of good running quotes, and here's one of them:

Why race? The need to be tested, perhaps; the need to take risks; and the chance to be number one."

4) It answers the question, can I do it? When first starting out, 5K sounds like a long way, and yes it is. To a first time runner, that's a daunting distance and you're not sure if you can do it. On race day, when you line up, and hopefully as a first time racer, you will take the advice and line up near the back and not near the front, you will wonder if you can do it, or will you have problems. During training, you have your place you run, or you go to the track and run the laps. These are safe, now go to a place a few kilometers away, where you don't know anything about the conditions, or the lay of the land except what you saw on a map, and run. You might find a few hills, or water or go off road to a trail. You may even struggle a bit, but then you turn the corner and there is the finish line. You have done it.

4) You will be a Runner. Again let me quote George Sheehan:

"The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank."
Okay, I know this tends to get people upset, because there is a danger of a bit of elitism in the running community, especially when it comes to the definition of what is or isn't a runner. Personally I believe if you go out the door and run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how far or how fast, you are a runner. However, there is a point when you can proudly say you did a race. Probably something you haven't done since High School track and field, and you can wear that tee shirt with pride and look at the finishing medal every so often to remind yourself that you are a runner. Of course if you get a position medal, well then you can wear that for about a few days until everybody you know has seen it and is tired of hearing about your experience. Running a race makes all those hours worth it.

5) Get the Competitive Juices going. I know there are some people who don't care much for competition, they run because of the enjoyment of it, or the health benefits. However, deep down inside all of us, there is this thing called 'competition'. As you stand at the starting line, near the back, probably near where I am, well I'm more of a middle pack kind of guy, you look around and in your mind you size up the competition. You look for somebody about the same age and build as yourself and you will make a mental note of them. If you don't believe me, just look around. Okay take your eyes off the very attractive woman in the tights for just a few moments and look around.

6) You will find your greatest Competitor. That person is you. You are challenging yourself to do your best. You are challenging all those voices that say you can't do it, or you shouldn't do it. You will take those voices on and you will beat them. All that stuff that in the back of the mind can be beaten and will be beaten the moment you cross that finish line. You will answer the question, 'can I do it', with a resounding "YES".

7) You will help a cause. Most races have fundraisers for different causes and charities. You will be helping those causes by participating.

8) The memories you will have. In the short-run, you have the tee shirts and other gear, plus medals. It's great to look back at a particularly memorable run. That will give you motivation to keep running as well.

9) The experience. The great thing about racing is the variety that is out there. From the small group road race, to huge races and everything in between. The Color Runs, Spartan, Neon, mud, water whatever. You can pick something that gets your attention and do it.

10) Bananas and Bagels. 'Nuff said.

I've signed up to do the Cambridge Mill Race. In the past two years, it's taken place on a Sunday, and I have commitments at the local church. However this year, it's a Tuesday night at 7:00PM. Good day and time for me. Also it's taking place in May, not April so the weather might be a little bit better for running. Plus I'm familiar with the course. It will be challenging since there is a climb at the end, but should be a lot of fun.

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