During my 2020 running goals post this year, I mentioned that I was planning on doing less events this coming year. This seems very counterintuitive to what many others are doing. Especially during the colder winter weather we’re currently experience. I’m sure many of you have been looking into all the summer races you’ve got planned, or would like to attend. I, to an extent, have been doing that too. My race ‘calendar’ is still not set in stone, but overall I don’t want to just be entering races because they look like a good route, or have a good medal.
I thought it would be important to talk through my reasons for a decrease in events, that would perhaps resonate with others doing a little cut back.
So my first reason is simply the expense! Doing races is another cost. Not only do you have the cost of the event, you may need gels, new shoes, and transport. You may even need an overnight stay. While many of these costs are just a part of running, for example new kit, you can feel a little under pressure to get the best kit or be wearing a new outfit at every race. I tend to avoid this pressure, but even still many races are around £20 each, and if I’m unable to cycle there that’s an additional travel expenditure, or lift from family/friends. Over the past few years, I’ve also built up a little medal stash meaning that as much as I’d love a new medal, it probably wouldn’t be loved as much as if I only had one. There’s also a lot of running website that offer you a chance to earn medals through virtual runs. You don’t get the same atmosphere but the price can be a little cheaper.
That leads me on to reason two: some races are overcrowded. This reason isn’t for all of them and on the whole I do do many small races where the participant size is around 200 (actually less than my usual Parkrun!), but watching scenes of the big events like the London Marathon I just think there’s way too many people. I personally would hate to run with that many around, constantly thinking you’re holding someone up. However, I have got an exception to this, I am running the Bath Half this year. This will see around 17,000 runners running around Bath twice. This will go either way, I’ll either love it or I’ll hate it. But the last time I entered the race was called off, and this could be the last time I have an opportunity to take part without having to think too hard about transport there. If in March I find I love it, I’ll come back and strike this point!
My third reason is that life gets busy. This year I’ve a few job related things I want to accomplish, like adding a new teaching strand to my portfolio, and manage a few new events for the children to be a part of. On top of this I’m also volunteering a lot more this year, meaning most Sunday (my normal race day) is now ‘booked’ up. Even though we’re only in February it feels as though I’m not going to get a weekend to myself anytime soon! Adding events to my current schedule may simply make the event feel like a chore, which isn’t really an activity I’d like to be spending money on.
Reason four is a little more world focused and that’s that it will create less waste. Being more conscious of what waste I’m creating or even contributing to in some tiny way will help reduce my footprint. Taking a water bottle to races, instead of taking a cup, finding nutrition that’s more waste free can help with reducing the impact of events. But so too will simply not going to them. It’s less fun for me and honestly this is just a tiny reason as to why I’m looking at doing less races. By not going I’m not wasting petrol/printing/cups/medals, all of the waste attributed to events. On the whole when I do have a race I am trying to choose races that I can get to via public transport, or that are close-by so can simply walk or cycle to. There are also events that offset their waste, (I know this is a little controversial, ie, does planting a tree really make up for it?), which you can choose to support instead which again will help with your own impact. Additionally I’m now able to take part in a few more regular weekly runs which I can try and use as a ‘race’ by trying to beat my own times. As they’re repeated every week there’s very little, if any, waste at each event as everything is simply reused.
Finally, I want to be more intentional with racing. I think last year I fell into a bit of a rut whereby my planned races simply became glorified training runs. Which, honestly, I could have done at home. This year I’m choosing races that I want to target and plan my training around. Yes, I may have a ‘warm-up’ race to test the waters or a fun run with friends/family, but on the whole I want to be a little more serious with the events. If I’ve done an event previously and not loved it, I’m sorry, but it will not be on my list this year. I’m not one for sentimentality when it comes to races, races do not need to stay in your calendar just because you did it the year before. This year my main target is my half marathon time, as last year I missed out on bettering my previous time so overall I’m not looking to do many 5km races, they simply don’t fit in my schedule that well. By cutting down it will mean my training needs to start being more focused/serious which does see me bucking a little and trying to wriggle out of interval sessions but I hope it will and that it will see the returns in my performance that I’m hoping for.
That’s 5 reasons why I’m not doing as many races this year. Does anyone else have other reasons why they’re cutting down on events this year? I would love to hear and learn from everyone’s experiences. I’ve not been posting too much on Social Media recently, but you can find my on Instagram and Strava, sharing my runs quite often.