(Not some Zen question on the meaning of running...)
I need motivation to run routinely, so always have the next race booked. I don't want to embarass myself in a race, and that makes me more diligent in putting in the training.
I also like to race in order to see how the training is going - can I improve that PB. How do I compare against the same race in previous years.
Currently, with a marathon comming up, races are there as high pressure practice sessions. it's easy enough to run the distance when there's no pressure, but the timings, the field and a number do make a difference.
I started entering races to keep me motivated to train. Now I don't think I need that as running regularly is now part of my life.
I race for mainly to test myself, to try and get pbs and to give myself new challenges (e.g. first marathon, running a hilly half). I also like collecting medals (sad I know!)
Good question - and one I've thought about recently as my other half was challenging me on "why I have to keep entering all these effing races"
I enter events for lots of different reasons, but the biggest two are:
1) To test myself (and see if I'm getting quicker), and to satisfy my obsessive, competitive itch
2) For the social element - I love the fact that running is something I can do on my own, whenever and wherever I want, but I also enjoy being with other runners, and running with others. This is also why I've joined a running club....
The thing that makes me try my hardest, and go "eyeballs out" occasionally when I do race is trying to beat myself - I don't really give two hoots about beating someone else..
A new guy at the club a while back asked me "do you enjoy racing?". I had to answer honestly and say that sometimes when I hurt like hell during a race I do ask myself why I do it!
However I love racing - pushing myself to the limit, running against the clock and running against others. The more you race the more people of similar ability you get to know and the better the races become too as more rivalry is generated.
The camoraderie is also a good thing. It's probably a lot better at a parkrun than a race but it's good at both.
I race so that I can see that I am improving - that all the runs have had meaning other than me enjoying them - never going to win but compete against myself
Local races are yearly institutions for me - I participate as a sort of thank-you to my local council for putting them on and doing such a good job of organising them. Plus my dad and mum used to run the same races so they're a kind of family institution too.
I enter further afield races to get a weekend away and to see somewhere new and different and I usually pick these ones for maximum scenery and prettiness - I'm definitely not interested in marathons that are 6 laps of some housing estate. This year I'm doing Edinburgh, the Lake District trail marathon, the first Perthshire marathon (in Aberfeldy) and Loch Ness.
I'm not sure about my actual motivation to race though. I'll turn up and participate and know I'll have a great time even if I'm not properly trained, so it's not really about PBs, though I do like getting them. I think I just like the camaraderie and the feeling of being part of a big group of people all doing the same thing.Plus the excitement of races always gets me going faster than I ever do in training, so I know I'll be pushing myself harder than I normally do when running on my own...
To win stuff.
Shallow and true.
I think if i was just doing running to keep fit, i could probably do half the milage and half the speed i do, and still have a balanced lifestyle, with healthy eating etc. Doing a race provides an outlet to see what i am capable of, when i train hard, and i do like to train hard, go out and do 10-12 miles just for the fun of it, while pushing myself at the same time. Its a natural extension of training then.
You always know that unless you are an elite, then you are not going to come first, and there will always be someone quicker than you. I like to see other people around me though, all going off together, all focussed on the same goal, to get to the finishing line, to get that medal etc. There is something wonderful as well, about having crowds cheer you on, that some how get you through that hill.
I probably do a race about every 6-7 weeks, only half's though, but it is enough for me at the moment. But it is a motivator, and Brighton for example, it kept my running in check, when it was icy, cold, in the weeks, and months before, it made me still go out there, since i knew i had this race looming.
I think it is great for beginner runners too, to give them something to aim for, like a confidence booster, and maybe provide a channel for emotions, if for example they are running for cancer research, having lost their dad or something. You can see the pain etched on their faces, but they refuse to give up as they hit mile 7 etc.
Running is a very pure outlet therefore, and i do it, as much to see other people (see above) as i do to test myself.
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