To Race or Not To Race? - That is the question.

15th November 2016

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I love bling as much as everyone else, and I love the thrill of being part of an event. Who wouldn’t want random strangers shouting your name, telling you that you’re doing well, looking great, and nearly there (said during mile one of a marathon…)? But,

To Race or Not To Race? - That is the question.

by Ruth Webb

Last summer, I spent a lot of time running, but not actually training. Does that make sense? I had just completed the London Marathon - a race in which it had all gone wrong - and I was frustrated with running. I was not following a training plan. I did not have particular distances to cover. I didn’t have a pace to run, or days when I had to go out running. I was just running for running’s sake.

My sister was starting the C25K, so I would go out to support her, and then attend my club running sessions. I loved it! The lack of pressure and the variety of sessions I was getting at my run club kept me motivated.

But when other runners asked what I had booked, and I replied with ‘nothing’, they looked horrified! “How can you not be training for anything?” They would then reel off a list of all the upcoming races that I should book onto. But I really didn’t want to.

Training for a race, especially a marathon takes up so much time, occupies your every thought, and it’s tiring. It puts pressure on your family, work, social life, and you start to get bored of the plan, and ready for it all to be over. So pondering this thought, of do you have to race, I asked the running community on Twitter.

One of the replies I got back stuck with me. The comment said that the person liked to always be half marathon fit, just incase a place in a race came up last minute. I like this idea.

There are so many great races out there, and I can’t always sign up for all of them: it can end up costing too much. But I would be so upset if a place came up, via a friend, a competition or, on the off chance you won the lottery and could book your dream race last minute, but I wasn’t fit enough!

Even though I enjoyed the pressure-free running, when you do get back to following a plan, you soon realise that when you are not training for a race, it’s a lot easier to opt out of a run. On the days when you are just a little bit tired and can’t be bothered, you don’t. When you are following a plan, there are plenty of days when you really don’t want to do a session, but the plan says you HAVE to, so you go. Sometimes, they end up being the best runs! And most of the time you return from the session feeling amazing! Following a plan pushes you to work hard, and help you to get better. Receiving crowns on Strava, getting closer to PB’s in races, and generally feeling stronger always helps to motivate you.

So looking back on last year, I really enjoyed my no pressure running, and I am sure that I will have times like that again. But, even if I’m not training for a specific race, I will adjust the runs slightly; to always ensure that I get a longish run in at the weekend, just incase my dream race place should ever become available.

Thanks for reading this

And thank you Ruth for sharing your story with us.

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