I’ll admit it. I stole this idea off of an article that I read on Runner’s World this morning. As you know, I do a fair amount of racing, and 99 times out of 100 I’m running to be competitive, or as competitive as I can. For most of those races, I’ll get asked the inevitable question “Was it fun?”
I thought the article of Runner’s World (you can read it at that link) did a great job explaining it. Generally speaking, racing isn’t fun. In a race of any distance, if you’re pushing yourself, there is a fair amount of pain involved. If you’re pushing to your limit, the race probably, in the moment, isn’t fun. In fact, it’s the opposite many times.
The race-day experience, though, is more often than not, amazing. The buzz before the race, and the excitement, relief, and beer of the post-race is a great experience. Running a race with friends, or others that you know, enhances that experience even more. That part is fun, gutting out anything from a 5 to 50k is less fun.
I can think of two times I used the word “fun” when describing a race. One being the Frozen Feet race in Minnesota. Running in a group of three at the front on snowy/icy trails was oddly fun. The other being the Beer and Bagel this past year. But I’m a bit biased on that one, as it remains the only race I’ve won outright. Being able to run the last half mile knowing you’re going to win really leaves a good taste in your mouth.
When I think of this topic, I think of a conversation I had with a friend at the starting line of the Gopher to Badger Half this past year. She was running for a PR and likely a top 3 female finish. I was running my first long race since Grandma’s Marathon, and it would be my first run of longer than 12 miles since then. She mentioned I could run for fun, and I replied that I didn’t think racing was ever fun. As two competitive runners, we agreed on that one.
But as you may have noted, I did say 99 times out of 100, I race for competition, which means I don’t always. Every once and a while, I’ll run a race without the intention of PRing or placing. One such instance was the Townebank 8k in Virginia. After a long flight, I was planning to run a shakeout anyway the day before the Shamrock. The 8k being a part of the weekend was simply a convenient way to do this. I deliberately ran a slow and easy pace. No PR, and definitely not racing. I’m planning on running a 50k later this summer as well. I’ll definitely not be running competitively in that.
Run: I think the last time I wrote I talked about my pending speed work. Progression 6x400s went surprisingly well. Soon I’ll likely bump up to 8x400s and start the progression a little quicker. And in August I’ll get started on some Yasso 800s. Trail Thursday was again a nice and easy run. And finally my Saturday run was glorious. 12 easy miles at a consistent pace. It was so nice to not be racing. So so nice.