Am I Ready to Run Races?
The primary consideration when deciding to step up to the start line and compete in a race for the first time is: why do I want to do this?
There is bound to be even just a little anxiety about entering an organised event for the first time. Many people feel self-conscious that they will be shown up as inadequate, that all the other competitors are bound to be much stronger and much faster. Well, in this case there are two choices: either give racing a wide berth and continue training solo or with a partner – there is no shame in this; or take the plunge because you never know, you may surprise yourself and others around you.
To whatever standard a runner reaches or aspires too, they are all competitive, and don’t let anyone kid you that they aren’t. Deciding to run in the first place is in effect setting both your mind and body a challenge, and getting faster and stronger will only mean you are encouraged to aim to reach the next level.
In terms of ability, some events, especially those run for charity, will not require a certain standard, so you don’t have to worry that you will be out of your league. Others, such as those run by clubs, will be organised according to age groups or a particular level of ability. It never pays to be unambitious, but don’t do yourself the disservice of trying to compete against runners of a much higher level as you will gain little out of the experience.
Finishing LineSo exactly how good are you? That is the question that brings all runners to the aforementioned starting line. Beyond that aim of assessing ability, the ultimate goal is to win. But winning can mean different things to different people. The highly trained professionals that triumph in the London marathon may only find satisfaction in breaking the tape; the thousands of amateur competitors will be satisfied just reaching the finishing line on their own two feet. Both have triumphed in equal measure.So ask yourself what you want out of the experience, and measure the success of the experience in the satisfaction you gained from it. For example, no, you didn’t win, but it was the first time you had run 10 kilometres, and you surprised yourself by being able to complete the course comfortably. Perhaps you would have had trouble walking that same distance only six months before. Now that is a triumph worth celebrating, but only with an isotonic drink, of course.
Running RoutineThe flip side of this is disappointment. You struggled to finish that 10k, or you found the presence of your fellow competitors intimidating. You may even have been the victim of a rare incident of road running rage, perhaps though an accidental collision. Again, as in the case of deciding to race or not to race, you either decide that the positives outweigh the negatives, or opt for being content with your usual running routine.
In the end, deciding to enter other races after the initial experience is all down to the individual and how they react. But always remember that the reason you run is because you enjoy it. And if racing does not enhance that enjoyment, then don’t take part. Even in reaching this conclusion, you have in a sense come out of the experience a winner. Because now you know what works for you.