To Race or Not to Race?
What's in a race? A run by any other name would be a sweet...
Or would it? This year so far I have raced more times than I did in the entire of 2017. One main reason for this was injury, the second reason was 'shmeh' and the third was seeing races as something to train intensely for, rather than as progress markers and opportunities for practice.
So what's changed? I'm now part of the GoodGym RaceTeam which, amongst other things, has meant participation in the '17/'18 cross country season (and more opportunities to race). The main change, however, is my attitude to racing.
Going to a race doesn't have to be an all-consuming, dread-worthy experience full of jangly nerves and multiple toilet visits, and with more practice of the whole racing shabang, all of those things are minimised.
What do I get out of racing?
It's exciting! And particularly with small, friendly races you might even make some friends (see my review of the Lydd 20 Miler here).
Practice of race-eve preparations, race day nutrition/hydration and that all important toilet routine.
Getting used to the logistics of it all - how far in advance to arrive; when to drop bags; warm-up routine; appropriate footwear (road shoes/spikes/trail shoes) and so on and so on.
Remembering things like safety pins, food/gels, binbags and anything else you need to keep you comfortable.
Getting used to the nerve-jangling and finding the mental techniques that work for you when the going gets tough.
A sense of achievement and a nice day out.
My advice to those reticent to race? Find yourself a small, friendly race (RunThrough are great for these) as a starting point and just go out there and try it!
An important thing to remember: races won't always go well, but you'll learn more from the ones that didn't go your way than the ones that did.
The course of true running never did run smooth.
Hmmmm... I think I've reached the limit of my Shakespeare-and-running punability.