I’m not winning races. So, why do I keep racing?

Traveling, picking up the race bib, changing into running clothes, warming up. The anticipation of the starting gunshot, the feeling of excitement while courage and insecurity are inter-lapsing, meeting nice people, a thousand thoughts at once… all of this and much more is what makes us race. But, not all of us will win the race. Or maybe we will?

 

It’s impossible to count all the reasons why we need races since the reasons are entirely individual. However, there is something deep within us that pulls us closer to that colorful crowd and makes us a part of it. One of the most common fallacies of the ones who see sports only through TV is that winning is everything. We know it isn’t.  You don’t run races to win. Even the best runners who do win are not there (only) to win. You run races for the experience.

Someone said that money could buy you either things or the experience. The experience of the race is, with time, going to convert into memories. I remember races from 1987, but I don’t remember the names of my colleagues from high school. I remember the weather, traveling to the race, which sneakers I was wearing. I remember my first marathon in 1989 and the last climb on Plitvice Lakes, but I don’t remember my first lesson in university the day after. I believe it’s like that with most runners. Racing means a lot to us.

My first marathon, Plitvice Lakes, 30 years ago

The running part of us lives through races. They give us the meaning of getting through the kilometer count daily, they are marked in red on our calendar, they make us improve, and they push us forward. Our racing schedule determines a big part of our daily life; it’s because of the races that we follow our training program, change our habits, get nervous when we miss a run, and it’s because of them that we suffer when we’re injured… Races are a sharp tool that keeps us awake when we would rather give up.

And in the end, when we cross the finish line and put finishing medals around our necks, when we proudly go for a run wearing the shirt from our last race, we will look at the calendar and make a new plan for the next race.

Because every runner knows – as long as I’m crossing the finish line – I’m alive.

 

Author: Zvonimir Mikašek
Active in Croatia, editor