One thing I love about running is the sense of freedom that it brings me every time my foot strikes the trail or the pavement. It’s more than a release for me, it is a way of life. I look forward to my run. When I’m working I’m thinking about hitting the trail and when I am running I’m thinking about the awesome tacos and beer that I am earning or my next race. What I am not thinking about is the guy in traffic who cut me off, or the long day at work that I had, or my bank account and the bills that need to be paid. It is a time for my mind to rest and for the most part be relatively clear and calm.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We love running. It’s what we do. One thing that I’m trying to do this year is bring that same feeling to my races. I want to run well and have a great race but I also want to enjoy my surroundings. I want to meet new people, suffer together, and when it’s all over, enjoy a beer. It is easy to get caught up in trying to set new personal records, qualify for that big race, or simply beat that person who gave you a weird look at the starting line. I have been there myself. I have had good and bad races. This year though, I want to really soak in everything that my races have to offer. I want to run WITH friends and strangers, not just blow past them and try to catch up when the race is over.
The point that I am trying to make is that it is easy to get caught up in the racing aspect of a race. It’s easy to overlook the fact that there are some cool people around you hiking, running, enjoying good company, and every now and then having that aid station shot of whiskey or beer. There is a whole other world inside the race itself of people just simply having a good time. I am not saying go to every race and party. I am simply challenging you to sign up for a race or two this year where you snap a few pictures, take in the scenery, meet someone new, and have fun. Enjoy the camaraderie of the like-minded people that you are running with. That doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for a race and go crush it either.
Ultra and trail running are gaining popularity everyday. Races are popping up everywhere and are offering better courses, aid stations, finishers medals and t-shirts, and after parties. As much as I love all of this, it also means that race prices are going up. I am all about paying for a great race! I want to make sure that the people putting together these fantastic races and their volunteers are being compensated for their hard work. I also want to make sure that after I’ve paid for the race, the travel expenses getting there, the time I spent training which kept me away from friends and family, that I am getting the full experience of the race and my “money’s-worth.” So challenge yourself this year and make sure you have some races on the calendar where you will have time to stop and smell the hops.
Guest Blogger: Mike Coutu