In 2011, I participated in the largest 10k race in the world. Let me back up a minute, I participated in my first organized race, which happened to be the largest in the world, and was the longest distance I had ever run without stopping. The Vancouver Sun Run, held in Vancouver, B.C., had 60,000 runners registered that year, and I was there in the midst of all the sweat, adrenaline and good vibes.
Prior to this race, I had been a regular jogger, mostly for exercise and justification for that extra scoop of ice cream at the end of the day, but that has now changed (not the part about eating ice cream, just the motivating factor of it). In the spring of 2011, I found myself in Canada for an extended period of time, without a job, and with ambition to take on every opportunity that came my way. I saw a flyer for the Sun Run, so I signed up and three weeks later, I was there among the masses. With a stubborn will and a nervous tummy, I took off with the stampede at the starting line. Fifty-seven minutes and twelve seconds later, I crossed the finish line, feeling tired and exhilarated at the same time. Running is unique in that you set goals for yourself, and you continue to battle yourself until those goals are achieved. For me, this is the finest form of meditation and self-improvement I have ever experienced.
As we move into the New Year, we at Snow Bunny Mag know that we are all starting to take a look at our goals and coming up with plans on how to better our lives. Let us suggest one goal, which could be particularly beneficial for you this next year: sign up for an organized run! Here are 5 reasons we feel an organized run will pique your interest.
1) Signing up for a race provides accountability for fitness goals
How many New Year’s have passed and you promised to start going to the gym or to sign up for a regular yoga class? We all want to lose those last few pounds, get healthy, and start making real changes in our lives, but why do we tend to fail? Part of that failure can be attributed to lack of accountability in these commitments. If you decide to sign up for a race this year, you are financially locked in, and more likely to show up on the date of the run. Knowing that there is a certain date ahead forces you to start training ASAP. Skipping a training day sounds like the worst idea when you have been boasting about the run to your friends and they are going to ask you about your time. A public proclamation is crucial for achieving any goal.
2) Race day shirts are badges of honor
After you have survived your run, you can silently boast when you wear your race day shirt. As runners, when we see people who have run the same events, there grows a mutual respect and a sense of camaraderie. If a person is wearing a shirt for a more complex run, much respect is paid. These shirts serve as tokens of accomplishment, while uniting people in the running community.
3) You can contribute to a charitable organization while you run
This is the ultimate way of helping yourself while helping others. There are tons of charity runs and relays that you can sign up for. Team In Training is a great organization that can help you get involved and trained for a charitable run. Checking with your local running store is also a good place to start. Usually they will list upcoming races and even coordinate running groups. Signing up for a short fun run for a cause can be enough to whet your appetite for running. In February, Boise hosts ‘Cupid’s Undie Run’ which benefits the Children’s Tumor Foundation. It feels good to run and it feels even better to do it in support of a good cause.
4) Training for a run with friends means more friend time
Running schedules are pretty involved and if you have a running buddy (or a few) then you are forced to make time for each other. Race day is the best. Showing up with a group of friends, to find a huge crowd, loud music, and the feeling of excitement in the air will pump you up for any kind of physical activity. Finishing the run and seeing your friends meet their goals is such a wonderful shared experience. You will probably even make some new friends along the way. Nothing brings people together like getting your butt kicked by a runner twice your age. A shared glance with those who are on pace with you, a smile, and a little boost of energy is sure to ensue.
5) Participating in a run is a great way to see a city/countryside and be a part of the life that makes it unique
Trail running is a favorite because it serves as an excuse to get out and explore the outdoors. In the same vein, signing up for a run in a new city is a great excuse to go explore cities all over the world. You want to take your family to Disneyland on summer break? Why not sign up for the ‘Tinker Bell Half Marathon’ and have another reason to go? Interested in extraterrestrial conspiracy theories? Head on down to Nevada for the ‘E.T Full Moon Midnight Marathon’. This run is held in the summer time, and the route stretches across what is rumored to be the most highly active extraterrestrial land in the U.S. There are so many fun places to go and things to see, signing up for runs across the country can motivate you to actually go.
There are so many things that will demand your time and financial commitments this year. Take charge and employ your will power to devote some focus on what will strengthen your body, feed your soul, test your resolve, and make sure to do it with some friends.