Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Not About the Race

Max raises an interesting question -- why do we race.  This is a good year for me to ask that question.  Last year I added triathlons to my routine.  Instead of running a marathon each Fall, and a few races the rest of the year, I trained for my first Olympic distance tri in 2009, and completed a half ironman in 2010.  Along the way I did a number of sprints for practice.  I also ran the Dublin Marathon with Spencer and Max.  That's a lot of racing.  So, I must like racing, right?  Short  answer is that I'm somewhat ambivalent about races.  There are things I like about races:  The energy at the start, the sense of accomplishment at the finish, the elation after a day has gone well.  But there are other things I don't like: the crowd scene at the start, the frustration about opportunities missed, or training errors that manifest in mile 18 . . .

The part I like, pretty much unequivocally, is the training.  I like the freedom of long runs, the conversations with friends, the variety of swimming, biking and running.  The reason for races is that they organize and motivate my training.  Without a race to train for, my workouts lack focus.  Without races, I can't measure my progress.  Without a race to train for I would not have the lurking fear of the "wall" to get me up each morning for a long workout.  The race is the end that motivates the means.  Or is it the other way around? Training is the end, and the race is the means??

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