Out of all the sports or activities I’ve participated in over the years, the one that I’ve kept coming back to is running. It’s a pure, simple, and straightforward sport – one foot in front of the other, over and over and over – and it’s incredibly versatile, too.
I can go run around my neighborhood on the flat pavement; run, walk, and hike up the side of the mountains I can see from my home; or go duke it out on the track, seeing how fast I can go. I can run for literally hours or a few minutes; the choice is mine and mine alone.
For many runners, myself included, while simply running for the love of running is enjoyable and gratifying, training for a targeted race can also be a lot of fun. More often than not, I’m typically “in training mode” for some event, and I like the structure it brings to my daily runs. If you’re a daily or near-daily runner but haven’t yet taken the plunge and signed-up for your first race, maybe this will be the day that you do it!
Below, you’ll find my insight about why registering for your first race is a great idea:
It’ll enliven your daily running habit and bring new meaning to your training.
We runners can get stuck in our routines, but if you have a race on the calendar, you might find yourself incorporating different types of running into your schedule than what you’d usually include, such as hills, tempo runs, track work, long runs, or trail runs.
When there’s a race on the calendar, you’ll find that you’ll have to bring more thought and intentionality to your training than you’d probably do otherwise – assuming that you want to show up on race day as prepared as you can be.
You’ll up your mental game like you never have before.
Admittedly, it can be a little intimidating to have a race on the calendar, especially if you feel like you’re stuck in your running ways, but when was the last time you ever felt like you “grew” when you stayed in your comfort zone? Sure, it can be tough to wade into unfamiliar territory – for example, by running faster or by running longer distances than you ever have before – but minimally, just give yourself the opportunity to try.
When you’re specifically training for a target race, you’ll surely endure some tough workouts, ones that you think you might not be able to complete, and it’ll be in those moments when you will have untold opportunities to flex your mental muscle and work on your mental game. Come race day, when you’re running full throttle, you’ll be able to tap into your training experiences and assure yourself that “I’ve got this.”
Having a race on the calendar will keep you honest.
No doubt, sometimes life is tough, and the last thing I want to do is head out on a run. However, when I have a race on my calendar – when I have paid good money that I’ve worked hard to earn – I get my butt out there and just do it. Having a race on the calendar is a great accountability tool.
It would be really horrible if you paid money for a race and simply didn’t show up (and races are typically non-refundable and non-transferable, so you’re pretty much throwing away your money by not showing up). Sometimes, for me, having a race on the calendar is what gets me off the couch and out on the roads. Maybe it’ll be the same experience for you.
Plus, having a race on the calendar is great for when the weather is sub-par and I’d really rather stay at home!
Seriously: why not?!
My last reason is probably my most poignant: you should sign-up for your first race and train for it because – well – why the heck not?! Assuming you are healthy, uninjured, and able to train for your distance of choice, training for a race and then subsequently running the thing is a no-brainer. Don’t wait until X happens or you accomplish Y because inevitably, there will always be a reason that you think warrants waiting (read: procrastinating).
If you’ve been running for a while, or if you’re new to running, give yourself the opportunity to experience the joy that is race day. Along the way, you can train with your friends (and maybe even meet some new ones); you’ll learn how much more mentally strong you are than you ever realized; and you’ll probably even develop a sense of gratitude for your body and all it’s able to accomplish, provided you take care of it accordingly. I mean, really – what have you got to lose?!
Hopefully, my insight above gave you some food for thought and has you itching to register for your first race. Running is incredibly popular now worldwide, and it seems like more people than ever before are training for and racing at distances from the 1 mile all the way up to (and beyond) 100 miles. The running community is an amazing place, and you’ll quickly be saying the same thing once you toe the line at your first race and earn your first race medal.
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com, monicashealthmag.com & nicershoes.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.