Have you entered a running race yet? You don't need to be an elite athlete, or even a club runner. If you can complete the distance at a gentle jog then you're ready to race. But why step up from running your usual route round the block or through the park, to racing for the first time?
Here are a few reasons...
Races are an amazingly positive running experience. From a local 10km with a hundred runners, to the big city races, like the London Marathon and Great North Run, with tens of thousands of runners, almost as many spectators and bands playing along the route, the atmosphere can be incredible. You are surrounded by like minded runners and you'll usually be running alongside runners of a similar ability to yourself.
The noise of the cheering supporters and music really help keep you going when your legs are hurting. The atmosphere is not unlike being in a stadium at a sports match or concert.
Racing helps you to excel and push yourself to run faster and for longer than in training. Pacing yourself against another runner (and you can expect to be running alongside plenty of other runners of similar ability) helps drive yourself harder than running on your own. Chatting to other runners distracts you from the distance and discomfort.
Its a great feeling to push yourself to catch the "one in front", and then the next, and running with a friend of similar ability is fun as you push each other onwards.
Racing is an ideal way to discover a new location. Why not combine a race with a weekend away in a new city?
Longer races (marathon and longer) are an opportunity to learn about yourself and what you are capable of. Discomfort and fatigue are only temporary but the feeling of achievement that comes with completing these distances lasts forever. What you learn from long races transfers to your life outside of running.
So what are you waiting for? Find yourself a nearby race and sign up.