Running: 6 Reasons I Don't Race Anymore

>> Monday, May 1, 2017

Many of you have told me you started reading this blog back when Stephen and I were running all the time. You loved the running and racing tips and tricks I used to write. There are definitely a good number of posts on here dedicated to the novice and even advanced runner. (I didn't write those advanced ones -- Stephen did!) Regardless, some of you have asked over the years why the running part of the blog is somewhat quiet.

And, really, I suppose I haven't addressed it directly. Or maybe I have and just don't remember. In short: We had kids, so there's that. And Stephen started coaching both cross country and track for his high school. That takes a lot of time during the week and on weekends when we used to be training. Do we still run? Heck yes. But -- and I can only speak for myself here -- I have many reasons why I've stopped racing in formal events.

1.) Cost

First and foremost, we have a family now (did you know? LOL). You guys know how much I write about our budget. With adding little ones and choosing to work from home, we've taken a financial hit. Not in a way where we cannot afford basic necessities. But running can be an expensive hobby, as much as we'd like to pretend it isn't.

There's the shoes. I only get like two pairs a year, but Stephen needs more because he wears his out quickly. (BTW: I wearing these Nike Free Distance shoes lately -- they are probably my favorite shoe I've ever had. If you're interested, let me know and I'll do a review of them for you!)

Racing is -- yup -- yet another cost. In fact, this morning I got slightly inspired to run the local half marathon. Mostly because it would give me an excuse to run 13 miles next weekend. But it's $80. Not the most expensive. But I immediately thought about how that could buy two takeout meals at our favorite restaurant. Or a week's worth of groceries at Aldi. And if you don't think running impacts your grocery bill, I don't know what to say. We eat a lot if we're training high mileage.

2.) Time

I hate to use my kids as an excuse, but you simply have less time with a family versus being single. I know moms who get up at 5AM and work out. Or who work out late. I get up at 5AM to work these days, so that's out. (Working from home with just one child is a piece of cake. Two or more? Nightmare. I'll write more about this soon.) I often work after the kids go to bed. I can jog with the stroller (here's how to start), but it's much harder so I only do it a few times a week. And with Stephen gone so much, our family time is at a premium.

Time is one reason I've put the marathon training on hold for the time being. I started it up when we weren't in a coaching season. Sunday long runs were awesome. Now that I'm alone with the kids almost Monday through Saturday, Sundays have become sacred. We both still run, but I'm less inclined to go over 10 miles. And I'm OK with that. I actually love feeling energized on the weekends. When I used to do back-to-back 10- and 20-milers, I'd need to basically lay on the couch a lot.

I guess as a sub-reason, races aren't the most convenient things either. With nursing, I'd have to pump. I don't like pumping and Eloise doesn't take bottles. I also don't think my kids want to be dragged to events. Maybe ever so often, but not weekly or several times a month.

3.) Flexibility

There's something beautiful about shedding the rigidity of a training plan. It makes you feel so much less guilty for missing runs if you're sick, injured, or whatever else. It lends to a more balanced life. Of course, having a bit more discipline would probably have me a bit trimmer and fitter -- but I'm favoring moderation in all things these days.

If the weather is really crappy -- whatever. I'll run later in the week. If I'm just not feeling it, I'll take an hour-long restorative walk. Or do yoga. Or go see a friend. The thing I'm not doing is fretting about missing my miles because I've got a race coming up. I remember trying to trudge through with bronchitis to meet my weekly mileage and getting even sicker as a result. Or feeling really cruddy because my legs were like dead weights. I know that pain is change, but I'd rather just feel good, be active, and be slightly less bad-ass.

4.) Desire

Yeah. My actual desire to run races has certainly waned. I was never one to do them to collect race swag or metals or shirts. Honestly, I have never really enjoyed the act of racing. It was more of a compulsion to get better times. That's OK. It doesn't make me any less of a runner. There's a certain thrill that comes with achieving a new milestone, like a half or full marathon. I've been there and done that. It doesn't thrill me anymore, so the desire to chase that feeling isn't there as much.

I think it's awesome when other people do events and I can tell they are getting a huge emotional boost out of it. I could take or leave that feeling. Of course, it's nice to feel like you've DONE something. But I ran two half marathons in March on my own (well, with my buddy -- but we weren't in an organized race) and still felt pretty awesome.

5.) Motivation

I guess this goes with motivation, too. I'm not motivated with my running to achieve a PR right now. I would like to get faster, but in the years before we had Eloise, my fitness took a dramatic turn. Having multiple miscarriages can really do a number on the body. I kept active throughout it all, but with being pregnant, not, having surgery, etc. -- my race times just aren't what they used to be. You'd think that would give me more motivation to "get back" . . . but it doesn't.

I'm cool with chugging along between 8:45 and 10 minutes per mile, depending on the distance and hill factor. Maybe this summer I'll find myself doing some repeats on a track. Maybe not. I think my motivation these days is much more mental. I get a lot out of just logging the miles and taking the time for myself.

6.) Zen stuff, etc.

Which brings me to being a Zen runner. I won't lie -- I do track my times lately. It's more about tracking my total steps (more on this soon!). I would say in the past, though, I more often than not did not wear a watch on my runs. I would rather map out the distance in Google maps ahead of time and finish. I get so much from just doing the run. I don't really care so much about the stats. Sometimes I do. You know how it is.

Running is my happy place. I do it to do it. I do me. You do you. But if you don't want to race, that doesn't mean you're not a "real" runner or nonsense like that.

* * * * * * * * 

Anyway, the biggest and best reward for all my years of running came this weekend. (This is about the photo above.) Totally unprompted, Ada came up to me as I was lacing my shoes and asked if she could go running with me. She got all dressed and we ran a mile together in a little under twelve and a half minutes. The whole time, I could tell she was so proud of herself. We finished, she gave me a high five and was just BEAMING with excitement to tell Stephen all about it.

And that's all I really need!

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