‘Tis the season for many runners to fill up their summer and fall calendars with races and training runs.
Within the last week, I went from having no races on the calendar to picking my main ‘A’ race this fall and then filling up my summer with tune-up races weekend get-away races.
But not every runner is inspired by racing.
Some never want to race. Others may be burnt out or injured. Some may just lack interest in committing to a months-long training program this season.
But just because you can’t (or don’t want to) train for a big race does not mean you have to sit out running entirely.
What To Do When You Aren’t Inspired By Racing
Taking a break from running is always an option, but assuming you want to stay involved in running and the running community (just not focused on the training or racing part of it), here are some options.
I am a big believer in volunteering for races.
It’s good for the running community. It’s good for your running and racing karma.
It also makes you a more empathic runner and ensures that you will provide the proper amount of respect for volunteers at future races you do run- it can be surprisingly hard to fill and hand out cups of water for hours on end.
Do A Race… For Fun
Here’s a crazy idea – register for a race, and just run it.
No big training plans, no carbo-loading or early Friday nights depriving yourself of good company and the occasional drink to ensure proper sleep to prep your body for some big challenge.
Do a run for fun.
Maybe run with friends. Pick a theme run, or color or bubble run. Something ridiculous that you would never otherwise do.
Pick a race that is shorter and that doesn’t require much training, if any (what distance that is for you will vary).
Leave your watch, and any notion of a PR or goal pace at home, and run because it can be an enjoyable thing to do.
Remember what running just for fun feels like.
Hit The Trails
Leave the pavement behind.
Hit the trails and bask in nature. Forget any notion of pace.
Find a local running club to run with if you are nervous about hitting the trails for the first time alone.
If you’ve only ever run on roads, you may be in for a total surprise at how different trails can be.
Go to a race a cheer for other runners. Be part of the race day energy and support others.
It doesn’t matter if you know the runners or not.
Cheer on everybody.
Make a silly sign.
Support that runner who really looks like they need words of wisdom to keep running.
Cheering on others can be super inspirational and is a good option if you aren’t racing because you feel like you’ve lost your running mojo.
I dare you to cheer for runners on race day and not be inspired to go for a run.
Be A Race Sherpa
If you have running friends who will be running a big race, offer up your race sherpa services to them.
Offer to drive them to the start line on race day morning. To carry their backpack of post-race gear to the finish or drive them home.
If you are so inclined, go to multiple points on the course and cheer them on (otherwise known as race chasing).
Think of the things you appreciate others doing for you when you do race (or that you wish someone would do for you when you race) and offer to do that for another runner.
Be A Sitter
If you have a friend who is training for a big event, their life can be a little chaotic as their training mileage increases, especially if they are marathon training.
Offer to babysit or dog sit, either on race day or during their longest training runs.
Give them one less thing to worry about.