Racing doesn’t mean you have to be a competitive person. You can race for many reasons. Racing is hard but the rewards are worth it. Running, triathlon or cycling, here’s 5 reasons why you should race.
1. The competition is up to you
For most of us, unless we’re elite, it’s unlikely we’ll win our race. It’s also unlikely that you’ll come last (and even if you did, you’d probably get a bigger cheer than first place!) So there’s no need to plead ‘not being fast’. You choose your own competition – it could be the clock, your previous time, the person just in front of you, your partner, the distance – it’s up to you. Pick a target that motivates you and go for that.
2. Practice for a big event
Races can be great practice for a larger goal, like running a half marathon before your full marathon, or cycling 60 miles in building up to 100 miles. They give you the confidence of being in a race environment with other people around you. If you have nerves, you can practice dealing with them in a less important event, so that your main race will be more manageable. You can also test out your kit and nutrition in a race situation.
You can use races to test out your pacing. So you can run or bike sections of your race at a higher speed that you hope to be able to hold for longer in future. Racing also tests your fitness and progress towards your goal. (See here for how to predict how fast you can run.)
3. Escape and see somewhere amazing
Racing is a great excuse to see somewhere new, at home or abroad. You can search for races somewhere really scenic or that you’ve always wanted to visit. The longer the race, the more you’ll see! Whatever the scenery, racing outside is always more stimulating than sitting at a desk. It’s a time to focus on what you can achieve in the present moment, and so is a great escape from everyday routine and worries.
Racing can get a bad press for being intimidating, but things have moved on from decades ago when only ‘serious club athletes’ competed in events. Races today welcome athletes of all levels from beginner to pro, and the ‘masses’ tend to be the more recreational participants. I’ve raced hundreds of run and bike events, and have always found people to be very friendly. Most people feel a similar kind of nervous excitement, perhaps some doubt and trepidation, and there is a big camaraderie in that. So you’re not alone, chat to your fellow competitors and you may even make new friends.
You can seek out races near family or friends, and get to enjoy time with them afterwards. It’s fun for both racers and spectators to go for a post race meal, and hear all the tales of how the race unfolded.
A great introduction to racing for runners is parkrun, where you get to start and run the same 5k at the same time as lots of other runners. You get a finish place and time. There will be fast runners at the front, and walkers at the back. The atmosphere is super friendly and there is always a group coffee afterwards.
5. Unbeatable Satisfaction
Not only will you be clapped and cheered on your way round the course by spectators, but you get to cross a finish line and be presented with a reward for your efforts, be it a medal or finisher’s t-shirt. Only those who motivated themselves to train, turn up, and push themselves round the course get these rewards. Whether you share your achievement with others, or bask in it alone, you will feel huge pride from having taken yourself out of your comfort zone and achieved something others haven’t, and that maybe even you doubted you could do. Congratulations!
If you want to encourage someone you know who’s doing a race, send them an Art Of Your Success sports good luck or congratuatlions card. You can even personalise it. To really remember your accomplishment, mark your memories in a painting or print.
See more of my racing tips here
Why do you race? Let me know in the comments below and good luck in your events!