#raceyourself.

Sixteen years ago, I started running. Barring a few stress fractures and a summer in France {where no one really exercises?}, I've been running ever since. When I lace up my shoes and get out the door, I leave my worries at home. I run to stay fit, I run to clear my head, but most of all, I run because I actually enjoy it. Running is truly my escape, which brings me to this post.


I realized something on a run recently: my years of competition took the joy out of my running. I was always looking over my shoulder or tagging behind someone faster than me. While I got a rush out of racing and loved my teammates, I never felt good enough. I was a solid competitor, but I didn't win every race. My competitive soul stirred up feelings of inadequacy and ultimately distracted me from why I started running in the first place.

When I ran my marathon last fall, I didn't run it to break any records--except my own. After competing for six years in middle and high school, I made the choice not to run competitively in college. I received a few offers to run for smaller schools, but my heart was set on Georgetown. I chose the college experience over the athlete experience--and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

In the ten years since my high school graduation, I have run two marathons, three half marathons, a handful of ten milers, and a few random road races. I absolutely enjoy racing, but that pesky competitive pull comes right back. I find myself picking out people ahead of me to catch or getting frustrated when my splits aren't stellar. Above all, it's expensive. {Paying $100+ to run a race hurts my soul.} Competitive juices aren't a bad thing, but too much of that "juice" isn't always healthy. In the end, I've realized my best runs are often the ones when I race myself. Why? I am on my own clock--or no clock at all.

If you're a runner, why do you run? How do you keep your competitive juices in check?
My best advice? Race yourself. Know you'll have good and bad days--and be okay with it. Pledge to #raceyourself and be happy with your running. After all, running isn't for everyone. When you get out the door, you're already doing more than the person who stayed home. GO YOU. xoxo {av}

Sidenote: Runner or not--after thinking on this post for a few hours, I realized this "racing yourself" idea works in life. Be it with blogging or at work, you've got to give yourself the space to succeed!

12 comments:

  1. I totally get this Alison! I run because I enjoy it also. It's my time to clear my head and just focus on moving forward--and I love that! The physical benefits don't hurt either!

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  2. I totally feel you. I love running races, though. I'm not very competitive, so I guess that helps. When I run, I'm running for me and just knowing that I can do it. I've said this a million times, but I wasn't a runner a few years ago. So for me, the knowledge that I can do this and I'm strong enough keeps me on the road and toeing the start line :)

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  3. i just started running (i was always a dancer and something about having your hips turned out all the time makes running painful) and i LOVE it. you feel such clarity afterwards! i started using the runkeeper app to keep track, and definitely won't be racing anyone anytime soon!

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  4. Oh man this is making me want to get into running. BUT... I love the message of this :) xo

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  5. I can relate to this so very much! I ran in high school competitively and it was so stressful. I got injured my last year and decided not to run in college - best decision! I've done a few half marathons and plenty of trail races living in rural NC, but I find that I enjoy it so much more when I do a race every few months and focus on my time...not catching people. If I do too many races I become my own worst enemy and I can feel that crazy competitive pull coming back. Run for fun all the way!

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  6. I love this! I race cross country in high school and that was all about the competition, but at the same time, we were racing ourselves to do better and better. After high school, I run for fun! Yesterday I just went on a short run with my music and I remember smiling and being happy just running by myself and for myself. It was such a great feeling!

    xo, gina

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  7. I run for me, but it's certainly difficult to digest that I haven't gotten any "faster" over the past few years. If anything my marathon times have gotten slower, which is beyond frustrating. I hoping to turn that around this fall, but it's rough only racing a few times a year. Race fees are so expensive! I need to do a better job of just racing myself throughout the year and not putting all of my "racing energy" into a few races each year.

    http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com

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  8. I'm a baby runner, and I have a hard time with it. I know that I can do more, but I'm constantly toeing the line between giving myself an injury and getting a better time. I don't think I could even begin to run a race, I'm too competitive and too much of a terrible runner for that!

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  9. Love this. :) I was so over running for the longest time--mentally, physically, I just didn't feel like I could do it anymore. Once I challenged myself to complete a half marathon (seriously, just FINISH!), I realized how little it is about anyone else but myself.

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  10. I love running, and now recently biking, so much. They're therapeutic, absolutely. I run for myself and my mental health. I also run because I love racing. Yes, it hurts to pay those big price tags for races, but at the same time it's worth it to me a few times a year. It gives me goals to shoot for and "official" times that I can race myself with. I think racing yourself is the most important, and even when I do the big races I think that's all I'm really racing against anyways...

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  11. I also ran competitively in high school and even completed my first full as a junior. I fell off the track in college and now I'm hooked again. I love to run intervals and see how far I can run in x amount of time. Usually though I have to step back and remind myself that its not about the time or competition, but rather the fact that I'm out on the road running and conquering the road. Its my favorite time of the day when I get to run and be alone for that hour to hour and a half.

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  12. I enjoy running, purely to stay in shape and not feel as guilty about what I eat or drink. I grew up playing competitive sports, but never running. I picked it up in college to stay active. My husband cannot understand it, and before every race he asks if I'm going to win. (not gonna happen!)

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