What motivates you to run? Most of the time I just plain enjoy running, so that’s motivation enough. But there are times that I need more than that. Some days my schedule has more items on it than can fit into the hours of the day, or maybe I’m just plain tired. Sometimes I go through a rough period when I’m just not feeling it, or I’m in the midst of a long, wet winter. That’s when I need to have something to get me out the door to log some miles.
I have found that it really keeps me motivated to run when I have an upcoming running event on my calendar. If you’ve never participated in a formal running event, you should really try it. I probably never would have signed up for one myself except that when I first began to run, my health insurance offered reimbursement for participation in an event. I certainly wasn’t trying to compete for a medal, but I figured that since it wasn’t going to cost me anything, it could be fun to try it. After my first event I was hooked. Now I try to keep something on my calendar every two to three months just so I have something that I’m working towards.
When it comes to running events, there are so many options available. You can run in the city, country, or even mountain trails. Personally I love it when they close the city streets to car traffic and I get to run on an overpass or bridge that I wouldn’t otherwise get to run on. I love the Rock’n’Roll Marathon races for this reason. Another thing to consider when choosing an event is whether there is a goodie bag or medal included in your entrance fee. The goodie bag can include anything from treats, coupons, and toiletries to t-shirts and sweatshirts. Some of the races give very nice tech shirts that I enjoy wearing for long after the event. The medals are kind of fun to get and to collect as well. There’s something about having someone put a medal around your neck right after you cross that finish line that is very rewarding. It’s also fun to collect the medals as a memory of each event. Then there’s the food or beverages that are served after an event as well. One triathlon that my daughter participated in offered a full-fledged barbecue for participants and friends at a very reasonable cost.
One of my favorite events is the Hot Chocolate Run. This is one of my favorites for multiple reasons. First, it’s offered at a time that is really key for me. In Seattle, the run is on the first weekend in March, when very few events are happening. It’s a great motivator to keep me running all winter long. Second, you get a really nice sweatshirt that I love to wear all summer. Third, and best of all, is that after you cross that finish line, you are showered with chocolate, and I LOVE chocolate. Not only do you get a mug of hot chocolate to drink, but you also get a large bowl filled with treats to dip into your own personal cup of chocolate fondue. After I have run 9 miles in the cold and rain, it is heavenly to sit down and devour warm, gooey chocolate!
So if you’ve never participated in a running event, you should consider giving it a try. It is really exciting to run with hundreds of other runners. It’s also fun to challenge the clock to see if you can lock down a personal best. Look for an event that speaks to you — something that will motivate you to run on those days that you just don’t feel like running. Let me know if you give it a shot. If you’re already participating events, which ones are your favorites?