Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why Race?

I've got another race in a week's time. That makes three races in four weeks. What was I thinking?

It's only a 5k race and it was supposed to be my second of the year - until I had a rush of blood to the head and decided that a half marathon interstate was an awesome idea. And it was, despite all the anxiety in the week leading up to it.

I have no doubt that I might get a little wobbly next Sunday morning too. So why do I enter races if they make me nervous?

There's something incredibly character building about racing. For me it's in the realm of "do one thing every day that scares you" - thanks Eleanor Roosevelt for taking me out of my comfort zone.

Racing makes you work hard towards a goal. Focus on one point in time. And makes you muster all your energies and mental strength at that particular point in time to achieve a goal. The goal may be simply to finish, or to run the entire way or it may be to reach a certain time. It really doesn't matter - just having a goal is the scary bit because it makes you aware that failure is a definite possibility.

Most of us don't like to fail. But putting ourselves in a position where we can fail makes the achieving of the goal so much more special. Nothing beats the high that running a PB give you.

Racing helps you train with purpose. Each workout has a reason - to build speed or leg strength or endurance. Or maybe it's to increase your lactate threshold so you can hold a faster speed for a longer period of time. It's harder to blow off a training session because it's raining or cold or you just can't be bothered when you know you've got a race coming up.

But the biggest benefit of racing, for me comes within the race. And it's not about your physical strength. It's about what happens in your head. It's whether you can beat those negative voices that are telling you that you're going too hard. That you won't be able to keep it up. That it's hurting and you have to slow down. That you don't care anyway - when you really do. 

Testing yourself like that, plumbing your inner depths and finding out just how strong you really are, has benefits that can follow you into every aspect of your life. It gives you the confidence to know that you can weather storms, you can endure right to the end, that you have a strong and indomitable spirit.

Racing, for me at this point in my life is all about learning to have faith in myself again. Over the last couple of years with all my confusing medical issues I lost a lot of faith in my body and my mind and even after having just two races under my belt I'm starting to rebuild trust in myself again. 

In fact 'faith and trust' were the words running through my head during last Tuesday's speed session. We were doing 1k and 2k alternating reps. Only 48hrs after running the half in Sydney, I wasn't really sure how my legs would be feeling. And in the first rep I could feel that they were a little bit tired. But those two little words kept coming to me and I tried to just focus on each rep and finishing off that rep strong. Instead of doing what I've done so many times in the past - dying in the last couple of reps - I managed to do my last couple of reps as my fastest.

So I will continue to get out there and race even if it makes me nervous. And maybe in time it'll be something I just take in my stride.

Do you have any other reasons why you race?


  1. I don't race and don't even like competitions nowadays BUT as you know I took myself out of my comfort zone and did something that scared me this week - by reading my writing out in public. And... just a few weeks ago I entered a local writing comp. Another thing that scared the bejesus out of me!

    The sense of accomplishment that one can get after doing something like that is amazing and I know you get it from your running as well!


  2. Have you ever read Haruki Murakami's book "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"? This post makes me think of that book.

    Good luck with the race!

  3. I need faith and trust right now .... thank you x

  4. I agree 100% that "racing helps us train with a purpose", and I really like racing often too. But my problem is that as I get older, my body just can't handle it. I mean, I can go to a race and go through the motions, but if I really put in maximum effort very often, I get really sore and it tends to lead to injury. So I've backed my racing way off. But now I'm bored.

  5. I've probably said that I don't race much anymore. I am trying todo other things that take me out of my comfort zone though cause I've started to feel stagnant!! Maybe it's time to try a few races again!!!

  6. I like the whole racing atmosphere - being with a crowd of people who like the same thing I do. Races make me run faster (in my world) and I absolutely love it.

  7. I concur with the notion of stepping out of my comfort zone...I've done so many races that nothing really was appealing to me for awhile and thus, I picked a really tough trail race (Leadville) to make me train unlike I ever have before. I love the challenge. To me, racing is about being challenged - and that's what gets me high :). I hope you have a fantastic 5k!! :)

  8. Go you good thing!

    I'm trying to build my fitness back up to running. Which, for a seasoned pro like you, would be more like power walking with a bounce in your step. Heh.

    I can do 5km at home, but the thought of doing it out in public with other people overtaking me all the way, not going to happen.

  9. Good post! I completely agree with your point about races: each goal related to the race may help us.
    Running races is an easy way to improve our speed and maintain a good shape.
    When we are close to the starting line we can meet people of different ages and countries and we can see a lot of runners coming and going. It's fantastic! The particular atmopshere of the race gives us motivation.
    Moreover, the week before the race I always try to eat healthy food which makes me feel better. In addition, a race gives me the opportunity to see new a place and enjoy its scenery, landmarks, environment and countryside.
    That's why I love racing!

  10. Great post, there's so much recognization for me in this post, it's almost scary.

    Besides the reasons you name, one of the reasons is that I'm able to run in a different city/area. Training is always somewhere around the village I live in and I like it when I run somewhere else.
    I could take my car and go somewhere else but one of the best things about running is that you put on your shoes and go. I don't want to drive somewhere for a training.

  11. great post...I've got that racing itch and it's for the exact reasons that you posted give focus, to set goals, the thrill of achievement...I miss it!

  12. I love running races but don't race many of them. Here in SA most runners use races as training for Comrades and don't worry about what time they finish in. That makes it very sociable to run a race over here. I have many reasons. I want to run 2000 races and I'm currently on 1376. I also love doing things that only a few people will ever achieve. That's why I've got some serious trail challenges planned. I don't run for time anymore but I did many years ago. I will certainly keep on racing for as long as I can.

  13. This is very interesting to me, because I never race. I run daily, but I'm never working towards a goal or something. Just running is enough for me.


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