Running versus Racing

Once again, I’m coming to understand that I’m more of a runner than a racer.

A couple of days ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to do either of the first two races in my race calendar for this year. It’s made me wonder if I should just not race at all this year. Oddly enough, that train of thought brought a sense of relief rather than disappointment. I was surprised.

The back story here is that on Sunday, I decided I wouldn’t do either the Around the Bay 30K on March 27 or the Vancouver Sun Run 10K on April 17. The presenting issue is my training, which hasn’t been going the way I want or need it to. Continuing cold weather, a very busy couple of weeks at work, and a couple of Asperger’s-related meltdowns are behind that. But making the decision to bail also got me thinking (not for the first time) why I race at all.

It’s not as if I’m particularly competitive. I’m not, not even against myself. That is, I’m never very keen on achieving new PRs. Though I’m happy enough when they happen, I’m not motivated enough to work hard for them or to have them as race goals. I don’t enjoy the crowds or noise that inevitably come with organized races. And heavens know I have enough race t-shirts, medals, and finish line photos. I don’t get any sense of camaraderie from showing up at races. I do enjoy saying hello to people I know, but I always arrive alone, run alone, and leave alone. Nothing personal, just the way I am.

Why then, do I register in the first place? Mostly, I think, because I’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s not enough just to run. If you’re serious about running, the common wisdom goes, of course you’re going to race. That’s where the challenges are, that’s where the validation is, that’s where it all comes together.

Doesn’t work that way for me. I don’t entirely know why.

Anyway, for the time being I’m back to “just running.” Not better, not worse, than racing. Just the way I’m made, I think.



  1. Alan:

    Asperger’s aside, I think you have the right idea. One should run to run. Sure, there are those of us that are competitive, whether with others or ourselves, but there is really something to be said about “just running.”

    I’ve found that running – just running for the sake of running – can be one of the most beautiful, profound, relaxing and zen-like experiences there is.

    I love events. (Notice I didn’t call them races.) For me, an extrovert by nature, the buzz of the crowd, the energy surrounding an event and the camaraderie is why I love to do events. However, if none of that appealed to me, I wouldn’t be doing them.

    Again, you’ve made the right choice, my friend. I think you’ll find it takes the pressure off and makes your runs that much more fun.


  2. Hi from another non-racer. In my running career, I had registered for 3 (three) marathons, and every time just before the race date something would happen, family sickness, death (no kidding) or another emergency that prevented me from going. I took it as a sign and just enjoy being out there without PR’s and training schedules.

  3. I have heard a lot of good things about the around the bay… The Vancouver Sun run attracts something like 20,000 runners + and is very over crowded… I would go for around the bay


    1. The good things you’ve heard about Around the Bay are correct. I’ve done it twice. And the Sun Run had 50,000 participants last year.

      I’m still going to give both a miss.

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