Sometimes in the running community there is pressure to run races all the time. Races are fun, and there are many benefits to racing! However, there are also important reasons not to run a race. Keep these in mind as you are planning out your racing schedule this year, or deciding if you should sign up for that last minute 5k next weekend.
8 Important Reasons Not To Run a Race
Now that races are back it seems like many runners are adding ALL the races to their schedule. There are others who have continued to only pick a couple goal races a year and focus on those. There is no right or wrong approach to racing, and you need to find what works for you. But keep these points in mind when you are deciding if you should run a race.
You’re body is giving you signs that you need to take it easy
Racing is hard on the body. Even when we don’t aim for a PR we usually end up running harder than we would on an easy run. If you are racing frequently and noticing some niggles or aches and pains, maybe it would help to not race as much. This would allow you to run whatever distance makes your body happy that day at a truly easy pace.
Running a race would interfere with your training schedule
Sometimes we have one big goal race we are training for, but we plan other races to run throughout our training. These other races can work well as part of a long run, or to test your fitness in shorter distances during training, or even to just get you used to being in the racing environment. But sometimes those races don’t work well in our schedule, and it makes more sense to follow your training plan as it’s been written. Most coaches will adjust your plan to incorporate races, but it’s best to limit these to a few throughout your training cycle.
Planning the logistics to run a race is stressing you out
Have you found that just planning the logistics to run a race is more work than a race itself? Figuring out how to pick up your bib, arranging childcare, finding where you can park, deciding what time to leave, etc. And maybe you are trying to arrange all of this within an already busy day! If you’re finding that running a race becomes more stress than it’s worth, maybe it’s better to skip the race.
The race fees are adding up
Races are not cheap! Especially when you do them all the time. While running is supposed to be an inexpensive sport things like races and gear can really add up. If you are keeping an eye on your budget skipping some races may be one way to cut costs. You can save those race fees and buy a new pair of running shoes instead.
You are missing family time on the weekends
Running a race can take a lot more time that just going out and running on your own. You need to leave early and often stay after the race finishes for snacks and socializing. This can really cut into family time on the weekends. Maybe sometimes your family can join you at your race, but this isn’t always feasible- especially during COVID and in the colder months. (And they may not want to watch you race every weekend!) Try to figure out a good balance of racing that allows you to get the most out of it while also spending time with friends and family on the weekends.
You know yourself- and you can’t race “just for fun”
Ok, be honest here. Have you ever planned to run a race and said “I’m not going to race this, I’m just going to run it for fun.”? And were you actually able to not race it? Many runners are so motivated by the race atmosphere that they can’t help but push themselves harder during a race. Running hard week after week can wear down your body and put you at risk of injury or burnout. Consider if you really can back off on some of those races if you are racing frequently.
You’re missing the benefits of running a race
Racing has many benefits, especially because it is an opportunity to push yourself in an optimal running setting. If you choose the right frequency of racing at ideal times in your training cycle, you will really be able to make the most of those training opportunities. If you race every weekend, they will no longer have as much value in that way. If your goal for racing is to challenge yourself and test your fitness, consider scheduling your races in a way that allows for you to push hard and then recover appropriately between races.
You may also like: How to Stay in Running Shape with No Race
You’re signing up to run a race for the wrong reasons
Think about why you are signing up to run a race, and make sure you are happy with those reasons. If you truly enjoy racing, great! But are you racing because you feel like you “need” to or because all your friends are racing and you don’t want to feel left out? Consider the priorities of your own running and training and figure out how racing can fit in. You want your races to be a positive experience that support your overall running and training.
How often do you like to run a race?
What are some reasons you will skip a race?
Can you race “just for fun”?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.