Active or Passive Running
Is it important for a runner to participate in races?
There are thousands out there who run for fitness but never actually race so there is no absolute answer on this point. But there are several benefits for participating in races for anyone and let me touch upon them.
For first timers to racing, the gesture of enlisting for a race inculcates discipline. Knowing that their fitness will be tested some months ahead, they are more serious about their running and the icing is the finisher medal that they will proudly showcase to one and all. Often, it is sheer inertia that holds us back and doing that first race opens the gates to a richer running life.
For novice runners, racing is an attempt for a personal best (PB) as time improvements are commonplace while on their growth path and this spurs them to continue with putting in the training. A race is also an opportunity to attempt a new distance for some runners. Finally, for experienced runners with several races under their belt, a new race is an occasion to assess fitness levels and provides for feedback on their progression towards a larger goal.
I went through many years without attempting a race, happy with waking up at a decent time and running in the neighborhood to maintain my fitness. Despite prompting by others, the sheer logistics of making it to a running event in the early hours was highly unappealing and I can understand why there are so many passive runners out there. The turning point happened with joining a running group and not shouldering on oneself the loneliness of a distance runner.
Whatever your stature, a race is always useful for motivation and self assessment.
To share your thoughts and questions, write to Ashok Nath at firstname.lastname@example.org
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