Sunday, December 8, 2013

When I first started running, I did it to lose weight.  I hated running.  It is hard to run when you are over 300 lbs.  I used to run/walk along a busy street once I got some distance under my feet.  When I was on that road (in the picture above), people would yell out their cars, "Run faster fat boy".  The hispanics would yell, "Mas rapido, Gordo".  (I love living in a diverse town.)  

Eventually the yelling stopped as the weight went down and then one day at a stop light I heard someone say, "There is that guy that runs everyday."  At that point, I considered myself a runner.
Running became a new hobby and a habit and it was great for my weight loss.  Eventually someone suggested to me that I should sign up for a 5K race for a new challenge.  My first thought like a lot of beginners is, "I don't want to be the last person to finish the race."  I did the race and finished around 40 minutes, I was not last and I was now hooked on running races. 

I wanted more.  Eventually, I went to 10Ks, then a marathon, etc.  Then running more 5Ks to get faster and faster.  I have been doing some type of race almost every year over the last 10 years or so.  However, I am currently not signed up to run in any paid or organized races in the near future, so it got me thinking...

IF organized races became obsolete or illegal, what would you do? 
  • Would you still run 3, 5, 15 miles on your own? 
  • Would you still weight train to become stronger? 
  • Would you still do planks?  Burpees?  Yuck.
  • Would you care if you had plantar fasciitis?
  • Would you still consider yourself a runner?
  • Would you still get up at 4 or 5am to go running?
  • Would you skip more workouts since you have no race goal in mind?
  • Would you regain weight you loss due to running?
  • Would you eat more mouth watering, delicious Chicago style pizza?
  • Would you still travel to another state to run 26+ miles?
  • Would you still run on your own or as a family 3.1 miles on Thanksgiving?
  • If there were no races, no medals would be given.  Would you still run 26.2 miles on your own?
  • If there were no races, no official PRs would be recorded.  Would you still document and report your new PR/PB for a certain distance?
  • Would you create your own training plans so you can run faster or longer distances?
  • If there were no races, some charities would lose out.  Would you still contribute money on your own to these organizations?
  • IF there were no Ironman races, would you have ever become a triathlete?
  • Would you still ride the bike those long distances?  Would you still do your boring swim session before the sun rises?
  • If you are a triathlete, would you still spend thousands of dollars on a lighter and faster bike?

Running and training for races can sometimes be a selfish hobby if you are a husband, wife, father or mother.  If you don't want to do your training at 4am in the morning, it interferes with family time.  Some people would consider this as being selfish.  So if you were not racing, would you get more family time? 

You also spend money on these hobbies, so if didn't 'have to' sign up for a race, better running shoes or buy a faster bike, would you have more money?  For me, probably not, I am sure I could spend it on other toys.

If any of your answers to the above questions is no, why is that your answer? Are races that important to you?  If so, why?  Is it a confidence booster?  Self-esteem improver?  Nothing wrong with that, I am just curious to hear why you do races?  

Or are you a person who just trains, runs on their own and does no organized races? If so, how has this worked for you?

Maybe I am asking these questions because while I am sitting on the sidelines and not racing, I am struggling to figure out why I bothered to sign up for so many races?  What did it prove? 

My quick answer is maybe for the challenges.  I believe I became a better runner and person because of the races I ran hard in. 

However, my question now is, why not just do that on my own?  Should I bother signing up for anymore races?  I haven't skipped any workouts and I am still hard on myself during my training.  Maybe my self-discipline is sufficient to keep this going for the next 40-50 years?  Or maybe I will still sign up for some fun runs every year and stay away from the $100+ races.

In March 2014, I will be doing my own organized 40/40 event.  This will be a challenge and not an easy day to get through.  I know this and this is why I am not skipping any workouts, still eating as healthy as possible and treating this like any $100+ race I would have signed up for. 

Will I do my own events every year?  I don't know, too early to tell.  However, what I do know is being a runner is a journey.  It never ends, there is always a lot to learn from others and about yourself.  I will have to see what this new road leads me to in 2014 and years to come. 

By: Fred Lechuga

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By: Fred Lechuga

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