We’ve all seen or at least heard about people who don’t do any training and then show up at the starting line of a half marathon or even a marathon. Not only do these people finish, some of them do pretty darn well.
It’s true and can be frustrating to those of us who break our legs (sometimes literally) out on the roads and trails week, after week, after week. So why do we torture ourselves, expend so much time, and so much energy in preparation for a race.
Because it’s not about the race. Have you ever heard the saying it’s about the journey not the destination? It’s like that. Of course, we want the cookie at the end, but training takes months and sometimes years. And it’s the training that teaches you more than any race can.
Training for a race of any distance requires you to learn or at least brush up on some everyday life skills such as, determination, organization, goal setting, and facing challenges. These are things that everyone needs to be successful and productive in life. I don’t care what you do for a living these things, will make you better at what it is you do. Not only will they make you better, but they will make you happier.
What if I don’t want to be a better happier person? Maybe I just want to live in my parent’s basement until I’m forty-five and hold a job for no more than a week at a time (versatility right?). Why should I train?
Training has huge social benefits. In nearly every medium sized city you can find running groups, and runners, they’re friendly people. They like to help each other out and impart their running wisdom. Training consistently also makes you feel better so you are more likely to reach out to new people. Finally, running can make you happier with your body, which leads to confidence. Confidence is like a social magnet.
Training will also help you feel better when you actually do run a race. You won’t be struggling through the miles. You can relax and enjoy the moment and then have energy to enjoy the running community when you cross the finish line. You’re less likely to have gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, heat stroke, and dehydration. Even if you do have these issues during a race, you’ll know how to deal with them if you train.
Training will reduce the likelihood of an injury because you are not just jumping into big miles that your body is not used to doing. Jumping into a race last minute without training or with inadequate training is the best way to get injured. Overuse injuries in particular.
It is training that will help you reach your physical health goals, not one race.