Whether you’re a runner, walker, cyclist or participate in other sports, you might have thought about signing up for a race. Maybe you’re not sure how to find one in your area, which one would be right for you, or if it’s really worth the effort. Why would I pay to walk or run with a bunch of strangers when I can do it for free in my own neighborhood? Well, there are lots of great reasons to try a race. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it!
- Gives you a fitness goal to work toward. If you’re like me, you need specific goals to keep you on track. I like to sign up for a race and then develop a training plan to help me work toward that goal. If I know I’ll have to run a 10K six weeks from now, I’m much less likely to skip a workout. I don’t want to end up having to drop out of the race halfway through because I wasn’t prepared.
- Some of the proceeds go to charity. Most races benefit local or national causes, such as a local food bank or the American Heart Association. In addition to being good for your health and lots of fun, you can also feel good knowing you’re doing something for others in need.
- Builds mental toughness. Sometimes races can be a good form of peer pressure. If my goal is to run an entire 5K, I’m much less likely to stop and walk if there are lots of other people around me running too. If I know my friends and family will be waiting on the sidelines to cheer me on, I want to look strong as I run by. There are times when you might feel like slowing down or even stopping completely. A race can help you find the strength to keep pushing through to reach the goal you have set for yourself. It’s also a good confidence booster as you complete one race and set your sights on the next one!
- It’s fun! Races are a great opportunity to meet new people. While you’re standing around waiting for the race to start or running next to someone on the course, you might start talking and find you’ve got a lot of the same goals in common. Maybe they are a first-timer too, or a seasoned veteran who can give you some helpful tips. Many races have an after-party with food, drinks and/or live entertainment. Consider recruiting some friends to train and complete the race together. It can be even more fun when you do it as a group!
Now that I’ve convinced you to try a race, where do you go from here? The first step would be to choose what you want to do so that you can start training. If you want to walk your first 5K, check out SparkPeople’s Walking Guide. If you’re interested in walk/jogging or running your first 5K, check out SparkPeople’s Running Center. There you’ll find a variety of training plans and other helpful information.
If you’re interested in training with a group, check out the running/walking or biking specialty stores in your area. Many of them offer programs where you meet for weekly workouts so that you don’t have to do it alone. They can also tell you about upcoming races in your area. If you find that there aren’t any races in your area that are a good fit, check out SparkPeople’s Virtual Races. You can do these anytime, anywhere!
Have you trained for and completed any races? Do you feel like they’ve helped you achieve your fitness goals? Why or why not?