I finished my second race of 2014 today, another road running race. It was 5 km short 😉 The last time I raced a 5 km was at the end of my racing days on the track, the last race of my senior year running as a Husky for the University of Washington. I was 1:12 slower today then back then, and although my legs wanted to party like it was 1998, my body that has since morphed into a cyclist and now a triathlete knew I would be well off the pace of my much younger self.
In a running race there isn’t always much of a story to tell, unlike the endless war stories of mountain bike and Xterra race days. Today, a few elbows were thrown around off the start line as myself and 632 other runners headed off for the out and back race along the gorgeous seaside in Sidney, just outside of Victoria. Like most, I went out a little fast, then settled in, found my rhythm, and felt like I was rolling better on the way home. I picked off some people and had a little kick to come home across the finish line. Of course it hurt, like most running races in which you decide to push yourself.
But it did get me reflecting on what I’ve always loved about running, especially as I consider it through the eyes of other sports I’ve done and been involved with in my work as a mental performance consultant. Whether you are a full-time runner, do it as a duathlete/ triathlete, as cross training or to simply keep fit for any other sport, there are many reasons running rocks! While certainly applicable to other sports, here are my top reasons to continue putting one leg front of the other as a runner:
1. Time. Like my race today, running definitely takes less time out of your day. And probably gives you the most bang for your buck for building overall fitness.
2. Runner’s High. Need I say more. I can’t quite compare it to “cyclist’s high” or “triathletes high”
3. Anytime. Anywhere. Any season. Running can be done anywhere. Road. Trails. In a city. It is also the perfect pace to enjoy the scenery and take it all in. It can be done in most any weather or season, and doesn’t require any special facilities.
4. Social. Many of my best friends and more memorable conversations were through running together. There aren’t many sports where you can train side by side for long, and enjoy long conversations. One of my favourite memories growing up were family oriented breakfast runs with our local club.
5. No equipment advantage or maintenance. Unlike the sometimes snooty world of triathlon, no one stands around geeking out over what running shoes someone is wearing before the start of a race, or how much they must be worth, gasp! A good pair of running shoes is affordable to most anyone and a plus but they will never win you the race, you and your body alone must do all the work! You also don’t need to use your precious time maintaining, updating, or cleaning your running “equipment”. Just stick your stinky shoes back in the closet until tomorrow’s run.
6. Races en masse. Whether on the track, the road, or in the trails, running races always have plenty of participants. Big ones even have pace bunnies. There will be no shortage of people to run with and help push you to a personal best or simply keep you company. Because running is such an accessible sport, most can relate well or at least understand if you say, “I’m a runner”, unlike the more obscure sports.
7. Freedom. As related to point 3, you are free to run anywhere. Whether going to work for the day or travelling all you need to do is pack a pair of shoes and some running clothes to get a workout in while you’re away.
8. Life Balance. While this is certainly debatable, to reach your full potential as a runner it much easier to balance with other pursuits like school, family and/or working full-time. You don’t need to train hours per day or sacrifice another entire area of your life to give your running goals your best shot.
9. The Mom Factor. Of course I can’t forget that getting a run in was the easiest thing to do with me wee little ones (in the single and then double chariot carrier), and now I can run along with them while they ride their bikes. In a few more years I will be trying to keep up to them on our own family runs!