Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why We Race Part 6

At the end of 2010, as people planned and posted their race schedules for 2011, I couldn't help wondering where all these people got their motivation. I have goals and experiences that I look towards in the coming year, but somehow racing just wasn't that important. Why?

I emailed a wide-ranging group of blogging buddies and sent out a general bulletin on the Endurance Athlete Project asking some simple questions:

Why do you race? Why are you willing to pay to run on public streets or trails, sometimes paying large amounts for travel and accommodations? Why are you willing to plan a race around a particular weekend? What ARE your motivators to race?

Part 1 was my introduction, while Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 began the sharing of people's responses. Here, in order of receipt, is Part 6 of the responses:

Lindsay, Chasing the Kenyans:
In no particular order, why I race/travel for races/etc.:
  • Change of Pace - I typically train alone, so it's nice to switch it up and have 'competitors' to run against (even though I'm truly only racing against the clock)
  • Measure Success - I'm sure some people can just run and run and run, but I need to have some sort of "validation" that my training is paying off - with a new PR, a great race, an age group award, etc.
  • An excuse to Travel - Although I've never been gone for more than a long-weekend, it's fun to run/race in different states and at least have an excuse to take a long weekend somewhere. 
  • 50 States Goal - Before I ran my first marathon I made the goal to run a marathon in every state, so that's another reason why I travel for races
  • I'm not all that great at planning a race schedule, but for a few of the 'big' races (usually marathons out of state) I can piece together once or twice a year. I plan the weekend around the race cause, well, I want to run the race!
  • I don't really run for the shirt or the medal, though those are nice. I guess my biggest "why" would be to clock an "official" time. I know I can go for a 3.1 mile run on any day of the week, but it just doesn't count as an official race time (or potential PR) unless it's in a real race.

Jen, The Running Artist:

Why do I race? Mmm, a great question and one that I ask myself all the time. In some way I do it because it's so new to me, I having only been racing for three years now and there is still a lot of excitement when doing something new, sort of like the proverbial honeymoon period. Funding is real tight for me, so I have to pick and choose carefully, although I realize I would probably run in anything I could get too. It seems, as time goes on that it is beginning to be less about the newness of it all and more about conquering an obstacle. Making an effort to do better is always top on my list. That doesn't necessarily mean faster, but also smarter, or being stronger, or having more endurance. I do like the whole race atmosphere and meeting new people, seeing new places is cool too, but it's not everything to me. I don't find myself training in blocks or anything I just would like to be in shape to race anytime, and very important to me; always having fun. Most recently though I have found that I really have a competitive streak. I don't think it's because I think I'll win the race or anything, but somehow when I pass people, especially late in the race, I really get off on leaving people in the dust. I find that I love passing people! I love the strategy of looking like the easy-going, slow-going, non-threat and then passing people in the end. It really gets me going, the adrenalin is fantastic and pushes me through the end of the race. Ha! I know it is shallow and even indifferent but that is what keeps me moving and improving and having fun.

Emily, If I Can't Convince You, I'll At Least Confuse You:


Ok. Because I love it and I can.

Oh and the little voice in my head that tells me I can do better than the last time....ya that's definitely a part of it too. If I can run a marathon - I can run 50....if I can run 50-I can run 100. ;)

Stay Tuned for Part 7!


  1. Great series - interesting to read what motivates people!

  2. I love these Kovas! Thanks for posting them!

  3. All of these ring true. But I just do it to come in first and win the prize money.

  4. I really hope you win Boston this year Beth, would be great to see that on TV!

  5. Love this group of runners! All people i'd love to connect with more. What EMZ really connects with me this morning...I've been having that voice in my head a lot lately...telling me that I can do better and better. Kind of excited to have that competitive aspect without the fear..Finally!

  6. I've enjoyed this whole series and the varied responses. It's helped me to consider and validate my own reasons for racing and training. Thanks!

  7. This is such a cool series... thanks for putting these together. (I too can't wait to see Beth win Boston... I have her autograph, then it will be worth even more!)

  8. Great to get the different views from different people. I run many races as training runs nowadays. These are usually long runs and are just easier than running 40+km on my own. Races also come with water points and aid stations. And then there's my little quest...2000 races before I retire. I'm on 1250 and have a long way to go.

  9. Johann, I don't think I knew about your 2,000 race goal - good luck!

  10. I have been enjoying the series immensely!

  11. Thanks again for these, really enjoy them!

  12. I love reading these and nodding my head as I hear their reasons. We are all in this together!

  13. I like Lindsay's answer and probably align myself most closely with her.

  14. WOW! If I can run a marathon, I can 100! Inspiring words and awesome stuff. :)

    Gotta Run,

  15. Thanks for sharing these. It's great to hear what motivates other people.

  16. i've been wondering what photo you'd use for me haha. i was thinking "he didn't request one... what embarrassment will he dig up?"

  17. I love this series. Keep them coming. I hope you have 1M parts to this. So before you post that last one ask the question again to those you already asked and see if that has changed at all and then keep following up.


Leave a comment, tell me what you are thinking!

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women