Do you hate running/walking? Do you LOVE running or walking? Are you looking for a challenge? Are you afraid of a challenge? Are you crazy? Are you completely sane?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you should sign up for a race RIGHT THIS SECOND. I am still riding the high from my second half-marathon, and I just want to inspire others to experience this feeling for themselves. In good ol’ millennial fashion, I’ve put together a list of of 8 reasons you should sign up for a race RIGHT NOW!
8. Excellent motivation to train. In my early running days, you could not convince me to run for fun. It was painful and most of all, boring. But the first time I put my money where my mouth was, I HAD to train for a race. By putting down $50 – $80 for my first 10-miler and the bonus threat that I’d literally be “swept up” by a sweeper truck if I went too slow, I suddenly had no choice but to hit the pavement in anticipation of my very first race. Whether you train months or weeks before (I’d recommend the former), you’ll run more than you ever have, simply so that you don’t come in last place at your race (or at least cross the finish line at some point).
7. New found purpose in life. If you’re missing some purpose in your life, or just a theme for a new blog or your social media self, a race is the perfect way to turn that around. Whether you sign up for a 5K or a triathalon, life is just that much sweeter when you have a big day looming over you. You’ll find unlikely cheerleaders in your friends, family and co-workers, who will all be amazed at your new feat. And if you want something to blog about, or enhance your Instagram or Facebook accounts, post your progress and watch those “likes” rise to all new levels!!
6. Establish new friendships. Joining the running/racing world was one of the best decisions I’ve made.. Aside from its health benefits, I always have a great topic of conversation with coworkers and strangers. I have also run with a few running groups who make the best of friends! Just imagine how *real* you can be while sweating in a group of beginner, intermediate, and expert runners. And the high fives (and sometimes drinks) at the end of a “fun run” are just the best. You’ll see!
5. Built in Philanthropy. Most, if not all races are more than a chance for you to challenge yourself and have fun. On top off all the schwag/goodies (see #3) your registration dollars (at least some of them) go towards a cool charity. I mean, what’s really better than that? *I’ve also heard that you can write off your registrations as a charitable donation on your taxes if you itemize. Please speak to your accountant first!*
4. Race Expos. My experience with races is still very new. But one of my favorite parts of participating in major races is the race expo. This is a shopping paradise for runners. All the gadgets you’ve ever wanted to try out, all the Goo and energy treats you’ve wanted to taste, and all the sarcastic/funny/motivational t-shirts you’ve dreamed about are all in one overwhelming location right before the big day. The expo is where you pick up your race “bib” (your racing number) and get lost in all the wonderful merchandise you think you can’t live without. Just beware. If you don’t need anything, get in and GET OUT. But if you’re in the market for running thongs, compression socks, and race bumper stickers, knock yourself out!
3. THE SCHWAG!!! I have no shame in putting this at #3 on my list. I love free stuff, and I have a feeling you do too. If you get lucky, and do your research, you will find that a lot of the major races around the country (and probably world) have some awesome free stuff during and after the race. For instance, at my favorite race, the Anthem/American Family Fitness Half Marathon, along the course, they gave out GOO! If you’re a runner, you’ll come to know this as an amazing (sometimes controversial) energy substance. There’s also a “junk food station” featuring gummy bears, cookies, and shots of beer. And this year my favorite hand out was Vaseline so that our poor lips didn’t dry out in the below freezing temps. I’ve stopped at all the tables having a few bites or sips of whatever was being waved in my face. I find it’s a nice way to distract me from grueling the task at hand.
After the race, you can usually look forward to a fancy medal, t-shirt, and other random paraphernalia that you’ll treasure forever as reminders of your victory. I’m no Olympian, so these races are probably my only chance at having a medal in my adulthood. I hang them proudly throughout my bedroom. I also snuggle up in my race blankets whenever I can.
2. Your very own cheering squad! Before I ran in my first race, I watched a good friend finish the Marine Corps 10K. I’m not sure what I expected to see, besides stampedes of people running across a finish line. But as I approached the race, it felt more like a huge outdoor party. There were enormous speakers playing “Eye of the Tiger” and other super hype runners songs. In the crowds were droves of people holding funny and inspirational posters desperately trying to catch a glimpse of their loved ones as they struggled up that final, (and evil) hill before the finish. I was *instantly* hooked. During my own races, the people standing in the cold and/or rain, early in the morning with their hands ready for high-fives and their endless “woo hoos” strangely gave me tons of energy to cross that finish line. It’s as if I instantly became accountable the hundreds of cheering people. I always try to say thank you to a least a few the resilient people on the side lines who I know in my heart are personally cheering for me. It’s a huge bonus if you catch a glimpse of a friend or family member screaming your name as you come closer to the finish. (Thanks to my friends for the posters and family for standing in the rain!)
1. Crossing the finish line. This piece is usually a given for any race, but there are few things better than the satisfaction of finally crossing a finish line at the end of the race. No matter how long the race, I always find an extra bit of strength to sprint through the finish, basically to show off in front of the “fans” on the sidelines. I promise that after you cross your first finish line, you’ll crave for more. You’ll want to go farther and faster. In a word, you will be hooked!
So please, I urge you, sign up for a race today, go get you some of those endorphins you keep hearing about, and, of course, some race day schwag to take with you. You won’t regret it! (Just check in with your doctor first if you’re new to running!)
Here’s some of my lovely pics from my races! Feel free to post your race victories and stories below!!