Reconsidering the “Racing Factor”


I’m currently writing from the sunshine filled land of Pasadena, California- quite literally; I’m sitting outside on my grandparents’ back lawn soaking up some rays and basking in vacation relaxation. Things have been quite lovely so far in Spring Break world, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been very conscientious to work on something that is often times very difficult for me: chilling out.

If you’ve read this blog before (thanks for returning, by the way!), then you have probably gathered that I am the type of person who always likes a fully developed and refined plan, agenda, or schedule for every moment of the day. Sure, this helps keep me on track, but I’ve realized throughout this past year that it also leaves very little room for spontaneity and being present. I began noticing that the more I focused on “What’s next?” the less I was concerned with what was happening around me.

Additionally, I found that this mode of operating can actually lead to some unfortunate disappointment. If I’m so focused on exactly how my day will go- who I will see, what we will do, what we will eat, etc. then there isn’t any room for imagination. Everything is expected and planned out to a point where the reality is a bit of a let down. Sure, this isn’t always the case, but I have definitely been conscientious about not being so methodical about orchestrating each and every day according to what I think will yield the best possible outcome. Because the truth is, we need to leave room for the element of surprise to whisk us away from our routines and surprise us with something unexpected. I think some of the best times I’ve had have been when I’ve jumped into something without prior planning or organization. Relinquishing the reigns of control to the randomness of the universe is often times the most exciting mode of operation.

I have a point to all this rambling- I promise. You see, this trip I have been catching myself wondering what the entire scope of my day is going to look like. This is understandable, because on vacations you make plans for fun things to do, right? But I’ve been realizing that plans are what I make and obide by all the time, and what would happen if I just let the present dictate my decision making?

My family is fairly laid back in regards to daily routine- which is very helpful, as they help to balance out my own scheduling compulsions. When I’m with my family, I love that I’m able to take a step back from the pre-determined stuff and focus more on the little moment-to-moment joys of life. And you know what? There are a whole lot of them.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking on this idea of presence versuses planning is because of the derailment/rearranging that’s needed to happen with my running. My knee is slowly but surely getting better, but I am most definitely outside of the training schedule/progress that I expected to be in. I ran 9 miles yesterday, very slowly and somewhat uncomfortably, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that despite all the effort I’ve put into this Eugene Marathon planning and dreaming, it might not pan out the way I had hoped. And I’m realizing…it’s ok.

I do still think I’ll be able to do the race…all 26.2…but it might not go exactly as I had planned. Truthfully, I have had my eye on getting a BQ this time around; my training runs were indicating that I had a decent shot at it, and I was just sort of feeling that it could definitely happen. I was prepared for it to not happen, but I was going to go for it.

At this point, it’s becoming less of an ideal. Sure, there’s still a shot, but this hiccup in my training has taken my expectations down a notch. I’m not necessarily relieved (because trust me a BQ is high on my must-get list!) however I don’t feel like I’ll be all that disappointed in myself if it doesn’t happen.

This injury/break/slowing down of my training has tweaked my perspective a bit, and I’m realizing that it’s okay for a perfectly formulated plan to not go, well, according to plan. I’ve been so focused and determined to refine my training in order to get that BQ that I lost perspective a bit on just enjoying my daily runs, no matter their pace or distance. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and believe me there’s nothing I’m gunning for more than knocking out a 20 miler, but for right now- for today- that’s not going to happen. I’m still in “recovery” mode and I’m more concerned right now with taking care of myself than crying over a race that hasn’t even happened yet.

Because the fact of the matter is- racing or not racing- running is still the best part of it all. I think as marathon, half-marathon, 10k, and 5k racers, we get so focused on our times and PRs that we forget that running isn’t meant to be about hardware and bibs- it’s about enjoying ourselves, pushing ourselves, and appreciating the potential of our bodies. I love racing, and I don’t plan on stopping, but I do appreciate this new-found realization that being a runner, to me, is more about the feeling I get when it’s 6:30 in the morning, the sun’s coming up, I’m listening to my breathing, and I feel totally and completely myself. That’s the reason I push myself to get up out of bed, and that’s the reason I will always come back to this sport.

Racing is a fantastic way to work toward a goal and maintain a running regimin, but ultimately- it’s really just another run. A plain, simple run- just with a lot more running buddies and water stops.

I suppose the point that I’m getting to is that for me, someone who is by nature uber competitive and incredibly planning-oriented, sometimes dropping the “racing factor” out of running helps bring the greatness of the sport back into perspective. It stops being this monotonous, check-list item that is only working toward a singular, far away goal, and it becomes once again a daily joy and privilege.

So maybe I will BQ Eugene, maybe I’ll just simply finish it. Maybe I’ll have to drop down to the half, or maybe I won’t even make it at all. I’m not really sure at this point in time, but for now I’m going to savor the mornings that I do get to lace up my Asics and run, no matter how slowly, until I’m fully better and ready to push myself.

I love having goals, and there are many futuristic running goals that I’m excited to take on, but I also love being able to take a step back from those goals and focus on the wonderful things that are already happening around me, running related and non running related.


Have a great week! And if you care to share…was there a point in time when you realized you were too consumed with one end point?

1 thought on “Reconsidering the “Racing Factor”

  1. Ricole Runs

    This was a fabulous and thought-provoking post, and I especially loved how it was tagged yoda of running! I also feel like I am too often caught up with PR-ing, which is unfortunate because it’s impossible to PR every time, and sometimes I’m not sure I’ll ever PR again in the half marathon! It’s even harder for the marathon, when you spend so much time preparing, so you’re so invested in it. But running for fun can be even better than PR’s!


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