Why We Race Part 4

At the end of 2010, as people planned and posted their race schedules for 2011, I couldn’t help wondering where all these people got their motivation. I have goals and experiences that I look towards in the coming year, but somehow racing just wasn’t that important. Why?

I emailed a wide-ranging group of blogging buddies and sent out a general bulletin on the Endurance Athlete Project asking some simple questions:

Why do you race? Why are you willing to pay to run on public streets or trails, sometimes paying large amounts for travel and accommodations? Why are you willing to plan a race around a particular weekend? What ARE your motivators to race?
Part 1 was my introduction, while Part 2 and Part 3 began the sharing of people’s responses. Here, in order of receipt, are some further responses:

Marcia, The Studly Runner: I race primarily because having that target date motivates me to stay on my training plan. I never seem to train as well when there is no race to look forward to. I also race because it makes me nervous and I love to push out of my comfort zone. I race because I never perform as well otherwise. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of crossing the finish line and being quite certain my Garmin and/or the official race clock must be wrong because I never dreamed I was capable of running that fast. Racing builds confidence and that carries over into other areas of my life. I race for the sense of camaraderie of being among friends. I love planning destination races as a way of combining my love of travel and running. Finally, I race for the sense of accomplishment I feel afterward.

Amanda, MissZippy1: So many answers to this question, I think. For me, I definitely love the challenge of a race…seeing what I can do time-wise, how hard I can push my body, and a bit of wondering how I rank compared to my peers. Probably the biggest is the self satisfaction of a job well done. Months of training that culminate in good results is a definite lure. It’s my drug, without a question!

Laurie, The (Mis)Adventures of a Jogging Stroller Mom: I think that I race mostly because I look forward to having something specific to train for.  I also love the way I feel (usually) after a race… there’s just something so great about finishing a race (hopefully with a decent time and maybe a little hardware for the effort) that can’t be beat.

Bryon, I Run Far: I race to challenge myself on race day. The challenge is not necessarily about physical toughness. I know I’m not tough. It’s about monitoring myself, taking care of my body, and pacing myself just right so that I can succeed on a given day. I race conservatively knowing that it means I will likely never reach 100% of my potential. However, I consider being at 90 or 95% of potential to be success. I also race to motivate myself to train. Sure, I adore running the trails for the sake of running on trails, but it’s even more fun running those trails when I’m in great shape. That said, it’s hard to use such a nebulous goal as motivation in December when the trails won’t be snow-free for another five months. On the other hand, I know I need six months to prepare for a focus race and even prefer to have a bit of a base going into that six-month period. That means signing up for Western States gets me out to run slushy streets in near-zero temperatures when simply daydreaming about flying down dry single track won’t get me out the door.

Part 5 upcoming…

12 thoughts on “Why We Race Part 4

  1. Thanks for including me and for posting this. Everyone has similarities and yet we're all different in our motivations. Running is a common denominator for such a wide spectrum of folks!

  2. Good series, thanks.
    You know I saw your link below the post for “Bigfoot”… Boy did I have flashbacks. That happened to be the name of the very first iron distance event I attempted in 2004 in British Columbia. Different race as it turns out..

  3. Really interesting to hear each persons different, yet the same responses and to know that I'm not so strange after all : )
    Thanks for this!

  4. Thanks for sharing all of these perspectives. I've heard lots of racing/training reasons over the years from friends and clients. Of course, I have my own reasons and motivators and should write them down at some point, especially since I HAVE traveled a lot to participate in running events and have a hard time just doing them for fun despite my being slow. If I get my act together, I'll send something to you, hopefully sooner rather than later.
    Happy running 🙂

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