Sunday, 22 January 2012

Why should anyone enter a race?

Me - just completed the 2010 St Albans Half
Why should I enter a race?  To those who  have known me for a long time might think that is an unlikely question for me to ask.

I used to hate sport at school and have memories of being sent out in the pouring rain to run twice around the rugby field in shorts and a tee shirt in order to "warm up".  The reality was we'd go from cold to freezing and soaked through.  The PE teacher (in his nice snug tracksuit complete with a bobble hat and gloves) would then instruct us to form two teams for a game of rugby.  If we were really in his bad books we would send us off on a cross country run.  Most of us hated it, all but the classroom bully who saw it as an opportunity to mete out a little rough and tumble to remind us who was Top Dog.  I left school hating all kinds of winter sport.  On a good day, athletics in the summer could be fun as was cricket.  Being colour blind, of the red-green variety, put me at a disadvantage but still there was fun to be had.

Fast forward to recent years.The Blair Government brought targets to the public sector which we all cringed at as we played the usual games to hit targets at the expense of quality and common sense at times.  That brought about league tables where there would be someone at the top and likewise, someone at the bottom.  This reinforced the part of me that shuns competition.

So, you might ask, why do I like entering running races?  Why should you consider entering a race?

A little bit of pressure, whether it is a Blair Government target, a deadline or a finish line, can bring out the best in people.  Of course there's a fine line between a healthy bit of pressure and then when it becomes too much.

2011 St Albans Half - faster time too!
On a positive side for me, a race represents:

1. Something to aim for.  Having a date in my diary and that's something to train for
2. The satisfaction of doing as well as I can
3. The fun of the race - the atmosphere, the banter, the marshals and spectators cheering you on
4. I run faster in a race than I would on my own
5. A chance to see how I'm doing compared with others
6. To be inspired by others - I often spot someone with really good running form and they just look great to follow and try and keep up with.   Also to see someone 10 years older than me doing better than me - that is something to aim for and admire
7. The reward of having done my best; squeezing every last ounce of energy out in the last mile
8. To run somewhere new and on a route that's all worked out before
9. The Runner's High (without fail on a race!)
10. Believing in oneself.  What next?

What next?  Well, I'm training for the MK Marathon in April and seriously looking forward to that.  How about some kind of cycle race or Sportive or Audax sometime?  I've got an ideal bike but not so sure about the time for training.  Food for thought but for now I'm focussing on the MK Marathon.

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