Why Races Aren’t About Being Competitive (and Why They Are)

Years ago when I got back into running, I signed up for a local 15k.  I “trained” for it and had an absolute blast on race day.  There was no pressure, because I had no idea what to expect.  I was just excited to be out on the course with other runners and to see what the experience would be like.  I got hooked.

I was dating my, now husband, at the time and suggested that we sign up to do a spring race together.  Having been a high school and collegiate athlete, he had no desire to go back to those competitive days.  He just wanted to enjoy his running.

I absolutely understood this sentiment, but tried to explain that races aren’t necessarily about the “racing.”  It took some convincing, but he signed up for his first two races, a 15k road race and a 10k mountain trail run.  Not the best choices to ease him into the sport, but after his first race, he told me to start finding more.

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Our first race together!

My First Race!

Why Racing Isn’t About Being Competitive

It wasn’t the “race” that hooked us.  It was the experience, the opportunity to find that inner athlete we had tucked away after our competitive days in sports.  Being among other runners, pushing ourselves to see what was our very best, and having strangers cheer for us on the side of the road, only made the experience better.

While I have had some varied success in my running, I’m almost always behind many runners who are far faster than me.  More often than not, I am not there trying to win the race, but instead to run for myself.

Part of what makes races exciting is the process.  From choosing which race and event you will be doing, to finding the right plan, it is the total package before the race even starts that makes it so fun.

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When I was competing in track and field, my dad was my coach.  One thing I will never forget was him telling me that I wouldn’t remember most of my races.  Instead, what I would remember most was the training.  He was 100% right and that still holds true today.

The process of preparing for your event, the excitement of the process, and the experience of the race itself is what makes “racing” fun.  People will be cheering you on, and they certainly don’t care what place you finish.  In fact, most people will be far more inspired by the person who finishes last than the speedster that came in first.

Why Running Is About Being Competitive

I’m not talking about coming in first.  The competition is rarely between you and the person who will win.  Instead, it is about setting goals and seeing what you can do.  Maybe you want to simply finish the 5k, or perhaps your goal is to finish without taking walking breaks.   You might have a time goal that you are working for.

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The great thing about races is that you can always set a goal, whether it is something really lofty or a smaller goal to get you through an event.  These goals can be for any distance.  The possibilities are endless, and this is what can help you to find a little competitiveness in your running at any level without taking the fun out of the sport.

Having an event or a goal to look forward to can be an extra motivation for your running.  It’s not always about getting faster.  It can simply be to make your experience better.

Why do you like to race?

Are you hesitant to try a race?  If so, I’d love to hear what holds you back.