Racing does not define a runner (at least it shouldn’t). There are plenty of runners who will never participate in a race and that’s completely fine. I’m a very competitive person and have found that while I enjoy just running for the sake of being outside and keeping myself sane, racing truly motivates me. I enjoy running for more reasons than I can explain, but part of what I love is pushing myself and learning what my body’s and mind’s limits are. Races are at the core of helping me define this. I recently found myself in a predicament I haven’t ever planned for: I haven’t truly raced since my 100 DNF in April. I did technically participate in a 30k trail race around the 4th of July, but it was a race I found out about the day before and used it more as a training run. Almost 4 months without a full-on race? I’m starting to get the shakes.While my next race still isn’t until the end of October, I’ve learned a lot about myself in this without races. Here are some of those things:
- My weekends are so much freer when I don’t have to be running 6+ hours. I also find myself socializing with friends more on said weekends because, shocker, I have a lot more energy when my long runs have been less than 3 hours long.
- Without such long races to train for, I actually had some time to do some cross training, including lifting (quite puny) weights and yoga. Can’t say that it’s kept up now that I’m training, but it’s better than nothing.
- I have more money in my bank account without so many races. Living in a major metropolitan area means races cost a lot of money. Traveling to races costs money. Staying in hotels or motels costs money. It’s been nice to not have to plop so much money on races.
- I’ve reminded myself how much racing means to me. The excitement. The nerves. The other racers. The hilarious signs (at major races in cities). The second you toe the line and realize that the next few minutes or hours are unpredictable. That frightens a lot of people, but it is so exhilarating for me and I miss it.
I realize most people in America go more than 5 months between major races, but I’m not part of that norm. I guess most of us reading this probably aren’t! I’ve enjoyed this time to myself to run for the sake of base building and to have fun, but I’m ready to test myself. At the end of the day, that’s why I do this crazy thing called running to begin with.
Editors call for comments: What challenges or benefits have you seen from taking time off from racing?