They say the first step of running recovery is to admit you have a racing problem. I guess you must believe you have a problem to begin with. Most runners I know do not see a issue with running a race nearly every month, two times a month or just about every weekend. Whether you’re a hard-core racer, part-timer or just dipping your toe into the racing pool you’ll fall into the five stages of looking for a race sooner or later.
1. Look at all those pretty races. At times, I feel like a squirrel in the middle of the road facing a slew of oncoming traffic. Which way do I go? Which way do I run? Oh, crap look at that big truck with its Ultra Signup license plate on the front. Everywhere I look there are all these races to run, marathons, 5ks, Ultramarathons and oh WOW over there…a 100-miler in a little mountain town called Leadville.
2. The bling, oh the bling…I’ve got to have the B L I N G. There is a reason the awards are shiny, filled with pretty colors and rhinestones. Race directors understand the addiction, they feed the addiction and they use the bling addiction to lure you in. And I love it… I’m looking for the race that features an operational Light Saber, keys to the Millennium Falcon or a pet Yoda. Whether it be a live dragon or a medal the size of a hubcap I’m signing up for that bad boy!
3. Is that a hill, oh I don’t want to run on a course with hills. Soon to be followed by, where are the hills, I need me some vert…vert. Vert. Vert. Vertical…give me the mountains, Leadville, Hardrock…Western States! In my early days once I found a race that fit into my schedule, was close to home and at a distance that I could run. I would scour the course maps, elevation profile and race reports looking for any signs of a vertical challenge. If I found more than a small bump in the road that race was out. Flat as a pancake was high on my race selection criteria. Then I must have hit my head, finally suffered from the effects of the lack of oxygen to the brain or the after effect of too many Mikes Hard Lemonades kicked in. Vert baby…give me the vert.
4. The Info Superhighway with sites like Ultra signup and I’ve lost all control. I’ve found over the years it has gotten so much easier to sign up for a race. Gone are the days of collecting race flyers, handwritten entry forms, licking stamps and trips to the local USPS office. Today, it’s almost too easy. With a few scrolls and multiple clicks of my mouse and I’m signed up to race in three new venues at distances varying from 10k, marathon, and a 50-miler…Oh honey, pls don’t look at the credit card.
5. This was a good idea 6-months ago. The excitement of signing up for a race is just about as powerful as the adrenaline rush of crossing the finish line. The in-between time…well, sometimes that gets scary. The commitment of race day keeps me training, motivated and gets me to the starting line. But I’ll admit…sometimes I think I’m better at signing up for races then actually running them.
I’ve been at this racing game for 19+ years…and I’ve figured how to run a faster race without running any faster. I share all my racing tips with you in my book 26.2 Tips to Run Your Best Marathon (or any race for that matter) available on Amazon and my blog.
You don’t have to be a racer, to be a runner. Some folks have long and satisfying running careers without ever running a race. I had conversations with some serious runners who question why I pay an entry fee to run 26.2 miles when I could do it on my own for free. Whatever you choose to race or not if you run you’re a runner. If you do decide to try your hand on the racing stage enjoy the ride, embrace the moment and remember why you’re standing there…to race yourself or maybe others, to collect all the pretty medals, to conquer the hills, to run on a new stage and to meet the commitment you set so many months ago.
Let me know do you race? If so how often and what is your favorite distance? Drop a comment below.