As my 100th entry I thought I'd have a philosophical look at why I go in races.
Why do I go in races? As a runner, it is a fairly fundamental question. I recently read in someone's blog that they thought previously they thought they deserved a race because of all their hard work in training. Another person had pointed out to them that they could alternatively view a race as a reward and hence something to be enjoyed. What I think this all boils down to is whether you see the race as a right or a priviledge.
If you think it is a right, then you may think you deserve a good result for hard work and a poor result for lazy work. So no matter what you do on the race day, you deserve the result: a very fatalistic approach. This may result in you not making the most of what happens on race day.
If you think it is a priviledge, then you will enjoy the race because it is a reward for all the training you have done and hence will try to make the most of the reward regardless of how hard you trained. I think this is a very positive way to approach racing, especially when you are doing it as a social pastime. This approach may result in you not working as hard in training because no matter what effort you put in during training, you know you will enjoy the race anyway.
So this got me thinking - why do Irace? I think I have taken aspects of both of these approaches into races. However, for the most part I see racing in an entirely different light to the two previous approaches.
I see racing as a test, a test of how well I can do based on my personal ability, my training and my effort on the day. And, I suppose if I'm really honest, it is somewhat egotistically a test of how good I am compared to other competitors. I suppose I like tests in general, so it it no surprise that that I would want to test my ability for running.
I do find races rewarding and I really do enjoy the atmosphere on the day, but I don't think it is my primary reason for racing. I get the most satisfaction from testing myself; laying my body on the line and giving 100% to see what I am capable of on that day. Perhaps this is the reason why I can't hold back in races or try to run at a slower pace with someone else (if this is the case, please don't anyone ask me to pace for you because I may not hang around for long!). I find I just have to go my hardest and there is little stopping me.
Of course there are several other reasons why I race including general health benefits, being a good role model for my kids, pleasing parents (sad I know), raising money for charities and encouraging others to take up a healthy lifestyle, but I consider that they merely prop up my main motivation for racing.
I suppose an allied question would be why do I run at all? And that is a question for another day. I will say that this entry may remain subject to additional thoughts and editing as I continue to ponder these questions.
I hope all those who have read my previous 99 entries have enjoyed them and I hope everyone sticks around to read the next 100.