4 Good Reasons to Sign Up for a Race

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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!
  1.  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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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!    
  4. 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?

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CECELW 6/5/2021
done.. i read this before Report
CECELW 4/20/2021
no racing for me. I'm way past to old! haha Report
RACHAEL2020 7/22/2020
Good ideas🤘 Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Not a race person Report
Signing up for races has been critical to keeping me on track with my wellness goals. Knowing I have a race coming up, keeps me going to the gym and putting the miles on the road. Report
thanks Report
These four reasons trump a whole lot of excuses. Report
Yes Report
Good idea. Report
Agree! Report
I started running at 61, became a Triathlete at 63, & ran the Marine Corps Marathon at 67! More importantly, after over 200 races in the last 6 years, I've maintained my goal weight for 6 1/2 years! Nutrition and training for races has kept me in my healthy happy lifestyle! BAM Report
Yes! Report
My goal is to be able to complete a walk this fall--knee replacement was done on my right knee 5/14 and it is part of my rehabbing goal. Eventually I want to run a full 5k. Report
Tomorrow morning at 7:15 a.m. I'm doing my very first 5K...I know I won't be "running" the entire thing due to an old knee injury. I have trained and know that I can complete it...I have a plan! I "brisk" walk the first mile, power walk the second and run as much of the 3rd+ that I can. Am I a "runner"? Absolutely not, but I'm committed to finish it, I'm ready for it and I don't have anything to prove to anyone so it doesn't matter "where I place", it matters to me that I FINISH! Report
I am doing my first 5k in may of this year-2012. I did not want to run alone, so I recruited 12 friends. Looking forward to challenging myself and feeling good. Report
This year will be my third KOMEN walk.The first time I kept asking myself why did i drive close to 100 miles to this.
At the end I said that was such a great day I will do it again. Last year I did it and had myself times in my age group,13 minute miles WooHoo!.
I am 68 years young and already anticipating this year. They are such uplifting positive experiences. Way to go Pat in Maine Report
My daughter talked me into doing some 5k's which are just enough of a challenge for me (I am usually in the way back of the pack). They are always so much fun (but I am worn out physically and mentally after)! Lots of them here in Cleveland in the warmer months raising $$ for very good causes so makes it even more worthwhile. Report
I've done several running races, but now I'm into cycling events. They aren't really races, but just long-distance events. With my husband and best friend, we just signed up for two Century (100 miles) events, both involve a lot of climbing, more than 6,000 feet in elevation gain.

I definitely believe signing up for an event brings extra motivation. I love having a cause too. My husband and I ride in the MS-150 (Multiple Sclerosis) event every year in Colorado - I've raised more than $75K for MS research and assistance in 20 years of fund-raising.

To anyone who is still thinking about signing up - just do it! You'll be glad you did! Report
For some reason I've always put racing with running, it didn't dawn on me you can walk too....something to think about.
Thanks! Report
It's kind of surprising what completing a race will do for you! I did a Susan B. Komen one last year (5K), and by the time I did the race I was sick of running regularly, and said I'd never do it again, and I was glad to be done training, and the ever-popular "I'm not a runner." Well, wouldn't you know now that the weather is getting nice out (and I'm injury free), I'm getting an itch to get out there some Sat. morning and run! Just to pound the pavement and feel the breeze and let all my cares go away as I work to keep going to the end (I ususally use running podcasts to keep me moving and motivated). Plus we camp a lot in the summer, and it's a great way to get a workout in and enjoy nature and I don't need to bring any special equipment along.

Anyway, while I'd still say "I'm not a runner," I do enjoy dabbling in it now, whereas before I would never attempt it. Report
I agree - signing up for a race gets you committed and motivated! I Report
For those who don't run, you can still sign up for a race. Just look for one that is walker friendly (Run/Walk will usually be in the title.) In my area, this weekend, there's a run/walk 5k (advertised as VERY walker-friendly) to raise funds for a young man diagnosed with pancreatic cancer so he and his wife & children can do a few things ( I suspect Disney). A great reason to go out and walk three miles!

If you're looking for a 5k in your area, google the website 'Running in the USA'. It's a great resource for finding races; you can look up races by state. Report
I've walked in 3 1/2 marathons. Then last Oct I dropped out of one because I'd let myself slack off and I wasn't ready. I've registered for another one on May 20th, so I'm training now for that. It's hard because I've fallen off the wagon big time, gained 20 lbs and totally stopped my gym workouts. I have lots of excuses, but in the end, I need to suck it up and just do it! I finished my first 1/2 marathon at 53 after having lost 60 lbs. That turned me from a couch potato to an athelete. My goal now is to do a full marathon for my 60th birthday in 3 years. Report
I love registering for races as they help me achieve both my short and long term fitness goals. An added bonus is all of the technical gear and medals I get for finishing the race! Report
I've had the goal of completing a 5K for over 2 years, but have never made it happen. I'm determined this is my year and have started a training program. You're right -- I need to go ahead and sign up for a race because it's exactly the push I need. Thanks for the great blog. Report
I love to read about the joys you experience running. My knees are so bad the doctor has advised against any type of running. Report
Me in a race? Hmmm... I have done some long bike rides and long fund-raising walks. But race....? chris Report
Perfect timing on this article! When I first signed up with SparkPeople last August, one of my goals was to run a 5k within a year...

...let's just say that while I've improved my lifestyle and my strength-training routine a lot, that my running goals fell by the wayside. Thanks for the link to the Running Center - I was just going to search for it! Report
I'm in my third week of the 5K My Way training and loving it! My first 5K is May 12th! Report
Was in the process of registering for a 5K when I saw this. (My friend was trying to get me to do the 1/2 marathon with her, but it's in 10 days - let's be realistic!) Report
I have been training for a 5k. I have been using the app couch to 5k. I didn't think that I would be able to do it...but I am having fun. I am looking forward to my first 5k at the end of April. If I can find one sooner I will definatly give it a go. Report
I can't wait for the 5K I'm doing in April! Having a goal makes jogging more fun. Report
I work out daily for approx 2 hours; weights, calisthenics, nicole's office workout, resistance band exercises, etc. I have lost 40 pounds and surpassed my goal weight. BUT I have never made it past 10 minutes on a treadmill with NO incline. 5 minutes on a stationary bike is all I can do at any one time. (I did 30 minutes on a spinner once, but I don't have regular access to that.) I am limber, I do not tire easily. But I have never found a shoe I could walk in (sandals are best for me) and I could go endlessly barefoot on sand. The ONLY things I haven't tried involve outdoor walking and running - and that is starting to frustrate me. I WANT to move to the next level in fitness - and am open to ideas. One thing for sure: I CAN NOT afford to pay to participate in anything. Report
I couldn't agree more. I find running races to be the best tool to keep working toward my goals. I have bettered my time year after year, plus it is just FUN to run with others--most races have people of all fitness levels as well as walkers and runners and the pre and post race atmospheres are like a fun party. I have laid out 6 races to run this year and will be looking to move from 5Ks to 10Ks--18 months ago I could barely run a mile on the treadmill. How's that for progress? Report