Whether it is a local 5K for the community center, or a multiple day walk for a national charity, or the city marathon, lace up those athletic shoes and join in on the fun! There is power in numbers and nothing is better for your motivation than improving your health and fitness alongside hundreds of other like-minded people.
Don’t get caught up in the word race. Some people tell me that they don’t participate in a run/walk because they aren’t fast enough. As kids we commonly used the word “race” to describe a competition to see who was the fastest but as adults, race is really about your own individual accomplishments. Don’t think of it as a race to win, think of it as a race to beat your own time or set your personal best. Some athletes are participating to record a certain finish time but most of us are just happy to cross the finish line. Think of the race as an event to be healthy, an opportunity to get your heart pumping, to commit to a cause, or reach your own personal goal—whatever that may be.
When I ran my first marathon, my oldest son (who was only eight at the time) waited in the crowds of people with my husband to cheer me on. My son exclaimed as he watched me run by along thousands of other participants: “Dad, Mom’s never going to win!” I still laugh thinking about his innocent but misguided belief that I was running to actually win the marathon. I knew my goal was to finish the race, no matter how long it took me. I felt great about finishing the marathon… and about taking the opportunity to explain to my son that the marathon for me was about participating, not winning.
Participate in a race event this year! Here are some great reasons why people sign up for races . . .
- Enjoy the fun
- Raise money for a cause
- Pay tribute to a loved one
- Achieve or work toward a personal goal
There is nothing like the exhilaration of participating in an event. The crowds of people with similar interests and the group energy are infectious! In fact, after you’ve participated in a race, you’ll probably be on the computer or paging through the newspaper looking for your next race. The energy is addictive!
Find a race connected to a cause you care about. You can work on your health while you give back to a great cause and improve lives. By participating and paying an entry fee, you are supporting a larger cause and meeting fellow enthusiasts who share similar interests and goals.
This is a perfect time of the year to start training for summer and fall races. Set attainable goals tailored to your own needs.
Train safely. (As always, consult with your doctor to get the green light before you sign up.) To avoid burnout or injury, do not push your limits, especially in the first few weeks of training. Injury is one of the biggest disappointments with training, so make sure you have allowed enough time to build up your endurance and muscles. For your first race, keep a realistic pace. Your first race should be all about feeling great about your newest accomplishment.
Don’t forget that kids can join in the fun too! I remember when one of our sons did his first 5K with my husband and me when he was eight years old. The smile on his face at the finish line was amazing. Kids have boundless energy and a race is a great opportunity to channel that energy in a positive way. Finishing a race not only teaches your children that they can have fun being healthy, but the sense of accomplishment (especially as crowds cheer them on) will do wonders to boost their self-esteem.
Whether you are signing up for your first race or your hundredth, I hope you have a great time, enjoy the energy and keep on moving!