If you are new to running or even if you have been running on your treadmill or through your subdivision for years I want to challenge you to run a race. If you have already done it good for you. I hope you enjoyed it and got something out of the experience. But, if you haven’t you may see images like the one above and think “No way, that’s not me.” Well you may be correct, because the people you see in the forefront are lean mean running machines. Most of us are not that. Most of us are normal people working our jobs, taking care of our families and trying to find some time to get out and run (or walk) to keep our mind clear and our bodies healthy.
What you can’t see in the picture are the thousands of people that are racing against themselves as opposed to any other runner. There is a big difference in entering a race with a plan to win and entering a race with a plan to finish or beat your old time. Behind those runners you see in the picture are husbands and wives and kids and grandparents that are there for one reason and one reason only…to challenge themselves.
When you run alone in your subdivision or on a treadmill you can log just as many miles as I do on the road. What you can’t do is have the thrill of people celebrating your accomplishment. Finishing a race with quite possibly thousands of people screaming is a pretty exhilarating experience. Starting a race can be a pretty inspiring thing as well. Frequently there are going to be stories told of why this particular race exist. There are a lot of good people in this world trying to do good for someone else. Hearing how and why someone started a race can really inspire you to do something yourself.
The main reason I encourage you to do a race is to see the other racers. When I ran my first half marathon my brother in law was running his first marathon. After I finished my race I relaxed for a while and then walked back part of the race to run with him for part of his last mile. After he got there I was only able to run with him for about a 1/2 mile before my legs told me I was done. So he went on and I started walking back. I ended up walking with a man that was “running” the half marathon. I had been finished for over an hour and he was still out there going for his goal. We got to talking and I found out that this man who I estimate weighed 300 pounds was doing the race for the 3rd year. The previous year he could only do half of it though because he broke his leg during his training and tried to do the race on crutches, but just couldn’t make it. Each year he has finished the race he has gotten faster. Each year he has also weighed less. I believe he told me he was down 75lbs total and wanted to get down to 200lbs. I believe if I go to that race next year I will see him running and most likely he will be around 250lbs.
The race for him isn’t against other runners. The race is against his own mind and body. He is telling his body he is in control and he will make the changes necessary. That day I ran my first half marathon and I was extremely proud of finishing and my time. But talking to that man about his life and his family as he walked the last half mile of that race was one of the best parts of the experience. So when you look at websites for these races and try to decide if you want to run one remember there is more to the photos than the people lined up at the front. There are amazing people racing for amazing reason way back in the back. It could be a 5K, 5Mile, 10K, or anything else you think you are ready to tackle, but sign up for something and see if somehow your perspective isn’t changed from the experience.