Given the latest fracas raised as a result of an improperly planned and executed race, a lot of runners, seasoned and new comers, are questioning the willingness to partake in such events that prove to be nothing more than huge disappointments.
However, the feeling of dismay should pass and not tarnish the essence of competitive running.
First and foremost, by competitive I mean against yourself. Running Saturday’s 10K, despite its several setbacks, proved beneficial in a myriad of ways. Most importantly it showed that as a runner I have progressed from my pace 2 years ago, at the RunQ8 2012 edition, where my 10K timing was 48 minutes (and the odd few seconds). Fastforward to 2014, and I find myself finishing the 10K in 46 minutes and 39 seconds. Progress!
Do not get me wrong; I run on a weekly basis, with variable distances, the shortest being 10K; it is only in a race environment that you truly find the drive to push yourself to beyond what you thought capable. And that is why races should never be forgone, for it gives you the opportunity to really test yourself.
Not only that, but the presence of several other sports enthusiasts around you serves as more motivation. There is nothing quite as exquisite as a thumbs up/ high five from a stranger. I had one person yell out “Way to go Lightning McQueen!” to which I replied, “FLASH!”, and that served to propel me forward. Finding yourself surrounded by others that have made the mental decision to drag themselves out of bed and put themselves through the grueling action of placing one foot infront of the other for a distance of 10,000 meters makes one feel right at home. Appreciated and understood.
One of my favorite race day games is called peripheral perception, whereby one uses their peripheral vision (looking out of the corner of your eye without turning your head) to spot hopeful over-takers. Once you see them (or hear them, breathing or slapping the pavement), all you need to do is put a little effort to get ahead, and keep doing so until you drain them. In any setting other than a race, this proves difficult, and that is why it is imperative to go for races.
However, that being said, race organizers are responsible for the well being of the runners. And that means not only replenishing their hydration levels, but also their nutrients.
Running is different from one person to the next; some can run long distances without need of nourishment, others require it on a regular basis, and the lack thereof can be dangerous.
Make no mistake, there is a huge difference between every day running and race-day running. Your personal best will always be set when surrounded by a crowd. And the sense of achievement of crossing the finish line is beyond description, well worth the pain.