Do You Have To Race To Be Considered A Runner?

Some people consider that you have to be involved in races in order to really consider yourself a runner. Louise Damen looks at whether this really is the case.

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During my career I’ve met several types of runners. There are some who thrive on racing. They have a deep rooted competitive streak within their personalities that needs to be satisfied. These type of runners don’t actually enjoy the grind of training, they do it simply as a means to an end in order to stand on a start line, ready to try and beat as many people as possible.  

Then there are those who love the process of training. They are intrinsically motivated to lace up, get out of the door and to push themselves, however when it comes to racing they don’t really enjoy the pressure of competition.

Finally there are some runners who enjoy both training and racing. They enjoy working hard in training and then seeing their hard work come to fruition when racing.

No rules of classification

Whatever type of runner you are it’s important to remember that there are no rules as to what classifies you as a runner. Running is deeply personal and we all have different reasons and motivations to run.

For a lot of people, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other is a fantastic way to keep fit and provides a great opportunity to escape the stresses of daily life. Just by simply running, you are a runner, there are certainly no rules about having to race.

However, if you do decide to toe a starting line then racing can definitely be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a runner. There is a common misconception amongst new runners that you need to reach a certain standard before entering your first race.

However, for the vast majority of races you don’t need to be a member of a running club, nor do you have to have clocked a certain time. There are in fact no definitive milestones that you need to have reached.

Reasons to race

One of the main benefits of racing is that it gives you a clear goal to target, which can be a powerful motivator, particularly on those cold, dark nights when all you really want to do is to curl up on the sofa. It also gives your training a sense of direction and purpose.

Whether you’re an Olympian or just enjoy the occasional trot around the block, we are all motivated by improvement, it’s what drives us. Racing can be a great way to monitor your progress.

If you’re looking for an objective measure of your running progress then the watch never lies! Timing yourself over a measured distance such as 5km or 10km is one of the simplest ways to monitor your current fitness level, (providing that the course is similar each time).

Finally, very few things beat the sense of achievement and pride than when you’ve completed a race, particularly if you’ve smashed your goal. Those post-run endorphins will get you hooked and you’ll want to better your time. Who’d have thought running was so addictive?!

Picture credit: Sinisha Karich /