I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

First, thank you all for your beautiful words of encouragement, support, and in several cases, ‘getting’ why yesterday’s half marathon felt like a failure to me.

What I realize after yesterday’s half marathon is this: I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

The racing element to running is just simply not for me. I don’t need to run half marathons to prove that I can do it. I can run 13.1 miles to prove that I can run 13.1 miles, without the pomp and circumstance of an actual race.

I did this half marathon because I told myself (and you!) that I would.

So I did.

And I finished.

But this is the last race I will likely ever do.

Because while training for this race eventually became what I wanted it to be…testing myself in increasing my mileage, kicking my running struggles to the curb, learning to breathe and *not* think about it, and finally enjoying running again, it felt more like work, and less like fun.

And I never want to hate running. Because I don’t.

I never want to feel anxiety over a pending ‘deadline’ of a race. I never want to feel nervous about being the last runner into the gate. It’s not me. I am a self-professed slow(er) runner and I will never be in the ranks of 7-8 minute miler and that’s okay. I run for me, I run to spend time with M, and in a way, as the beautiful Melissa put it in her absolutely astoundingly inspiring post (please read it!), I want to impress myself. I am not afraid to admit that.

What I am almost afraid to admit is this: I don’t think I ran this race so much for me as I did it because ‘I said I would’ and because well, my sister ran it too (and killed it! check out her day two recap with pictures!) and we do everything together. But as another bloggy friend pointed out to me separately, (and as Jess actually put it in her post I linked to above), just because she does it, doesn’t mean I have to, too. This may be the very first time we have not done the same thing workout/challenge wise. And while I thought I would hate that, it is easier to swallow than I thought.

Because she thrives in the racing atmosphere. I do not.

I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

And I am content with that. I look back at the two half marathons, multiple 5Ks and 5-miler races I have done and not one of them has ever been a good race for me, a good experience, one that I ended with a runner’s high. No, they always had some element of anxiety, stress, side cramps or panic that I never really put two and two together on before.  Sure, I could keep trying to ‘fix’ my anxiety when it comes to the race element, but for what? What drives me to run is me, and what drives me to race is well…I don’t know that I have a proper answer to that. It used to be a ‘running group’ I joined with a few local runners/friends when I first started going through divorce, as a way to get me out and about and trying new things. But that group has long since dissipated. I don’t need to race. I need to run. For me.

I may go with the ‘never say never’ mantra because you never know…but for now, for me, I am a runner. Not a racer.

To be continued tomorrow on how I plan to keep challenging myself with my running…I have a bit of a challenge up my sleeve that I am excited to face.

45 thoughts on “I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

  1. For a long time I would sign up for dance shows or competitions…not do my best then hate myself and want to stop dancing. Finally I realized that while I like dancing, it doesn’t define who I am. I have 5 million other interests, I don’t need one to stress me out! So, I fully support being a runner not a racer – find what makes you happy and do that. 🙂

  2. Definitely go with never say never. You might get the urge to run another race – regardless of distance – just because YOU want to. But for now? Do what you love and what makes you happy and fulfilled. That’s ultimately what is important.

  3. I think that’s amazing that you’re a runner and a participant!! I know for me and fitness workouts, I’ll never be the expert but love the experience of it all.

  4. I’m proud of you for coming to this realization – mostly because, like you said, it *does* mean that you and I are doing something different from one another (which is hard for us), a first for us in quite awhile. The only other difference we’ve faced? Your divorce – and with that, I learned so much about you, so much about us, our sistership, that difference became our strength in a weird way. And I have no doubt that this particular “difference” will do the very same. We’re still going to be as close as we’ve ever been, if not closer (despite the whopping 20 mins I’ll have to drive to see you pretty soon, ha!). So don’t ever worry about us and being “different” – this is about you and finding what makes you a happier more complete you. A you that I love very much and just want to see that smiling face of yours, smiling away as often as possible.

    1. thank you sis. I love what you say about it being a difference but not…because you are right. It doesn’t change running together or even training for longer distances. I will still do that, I just won’t participate in the race after. Honestly, I think I win out here 😉 XOXO sis.

  5. YES – you don’t have to race to be considered a runner! There is no reason at all to put that pressure on yourself if it’s going to make you hate doing something you would otherwise enjoy. Increase mileage or increase speed because YOU want to not because you feel you have to. Run for you!

    1. Exactly!! I now need to learn to switch my mindset to just that….increase speed or distance because I WANT to not because I have to. I want to keep loving running. This felt like the ephiphany I’ve been struggling against and I feel so much freer now.

  6. It’s good to know who you are as an athlete. Do what you love…so if you love to run, then run! And if that means never running in another race, that doesn’t make you “less than” anyone else out there. It means simply doing what you enjoy…for the pure enjoyment of doing it. 🙂

    1. Who I am as an athlete…I hadn’t even thought of it that way. I guess I *am* an athlete huh? As are you 🙂 But you are right, I am going to run because I enjoy it, first and foremost.

  7. there’s something about doing something like this just for the pure beauty of the act. shoehorning competition into it can wreck that beauty. do what you love, and do it the way you love it. besides, if you’re racing, you may miss the bunnies… 🙂

  8. I sooo hear you. It’s like that for me and my photography. When I started getting paid for it and ‘having’ to do it…I stopped having fun. Running is health. Racing is for your ego!!!

  9. 1. You should be SO proud of yourself. There are many many many people that will never run a half marathon (including me!) and the fact that you did it and FINISHED is a huge accomplishment. You shouldn’t feel disappointed you should feel proud that you trained for months for this day, AND YOU CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!

    2. As much as you and Jess love doing everything together- which is awesome might I add!- I think it is so important that you each have your own identity. You will always have each other in your corner however this doesn’t mean you both have to always LOVE the same things….and it doesn’t mean that you are “less close” if you don’t LOVE everything the other one does. I think it’s actually awesome that you came to the realization that you are runner not a racer! Now you can enjoy running and all the wonderful aspects about it rather than focusing on a race. If you have determined it’s just not your thing, so be it. There isn’t anything wrong with this.

    I used to try to want to LOVE yoga. While I love aspects of it, I really don’t love a typical yoga class. It is just not my thing. Two close friends of mine LOVE IT. I used to feel like I was missing out on something when they would talk about how much they love it, now I don’t. I just realized that while there are things I do love about yoga, I am just not as into as they are. And I’m fine with it.

    Do what you love….and if running and not racing is what you love- be true to yourself.

    1. Thank you Tanya for such a heartfelt comment, and a long one too, especially after your long day yesterday! Your comparison to yoga is exactly it. I WANTED to love the racing aspect because some of those around me, sister included, like it and do it. But I’ve tried, and tried, and clearly, it just isn’t my thing. Doesn’t mean we are any less close, you are right, it just means there is something different between us. Big deal 😉 I feel so much better now that I have realized this little epiphany.

  10. Just found your blog and love this post as I feel pretty much the same way as you do. I started running about two years ago after watching one of my oldest friends run the NYC marathon. She had never been athletic and is now is qualifying for Boston and running sub 8 min/mile half marathons. She is a total inspiration but I know I will never love racing enough to want to be that fast (or anything CLOSE to that fast). I run because I love running: being outside and allowing myself to think about nothing but the sound of my feet on the pavement. Although I am completing 9 races to qualify for the NYC Marathon to be able to run such a great marathon course, I have never “raced” any of them. Sure, it is a great feeling to gain speed, or beat a previous best pace, but I am more interested in enjoying myself than worrying about my time. Running to run is as good a reason as any, and you’re just as much an inspiration as any racer out there! Thanks for the great post, can’t wait to read more!

    1. Hi there! Thank you for visiting and for the great comment! I am glad you can relate though I must commend you…so are you running the marathon course, but not ON the day of the marathon? That’s a great idea! And there is nothing better than running to run than any other goal. IMHO!

      1. I am actually planning on running the actual marathon – on the day (I think part of being able to even run that many miles is having the crowds cheering you on), but in order to run you have to either qualify by time (not ever gonna happen haha), run through a charity (I already fundraise throughout the year, so I feel badly hitting up friends and fam too often), or run 9 New York Road Runners races and volunteer at 1 in a year. So far I’m 6 races in and excited (and scared out of my mind) to train next summer. My goal will be to just finish, hopefully in enough time to get my name in the NY Times, but I’ll be proud no matter what. 26.2 is LONG.

  11. I don’t know how I missed this yesterday, but I’m glad I saw it! And I’m so glad you have figured this all out! I think there are lots of people who run but never race and that’s absolutely wonderful. There is absolutely no point in doing something that doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t sound like racing makes you happy – but running does. I’m so excited for your next challenge, and to be a part of it! Hugs!

    1. Thank you Amber (and your comment did come through!), you’re right, I shouldn’t do something that isn’t making me happy. Case in point: today’s run felt less stressful and structured and that’s how I like it. Sure my legs felt like dead weight still but I got a 4 miler in and feel good doing it 🙂

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