Monday, 19 October 2015

Fun Running, Running for Fun and Racing

When I did Glow in the Dark at Windsor with mum back in April there was a great turn out. Dad commented that he was surprised that so many people had shown up for something that was essentially a fun run. I didn't think much about it at the time but afterwards I felt glad because it means that people are running for the love of it and not always competitively; more people are encouraged. And indeed there weren't many people there who were running with a goal in mind, other than perhaps just to get round without stopping.

It got me thinking a bit about the difference between fun runs, running for fun and racing. The definitions of these will vary from person to person but my definitions would be something thus:

Fun Run: a short, sociable run with a theme, often un-timed, where walking is not frowned upon. Usually suitable for all ages.
Glow in the Dark - 100% fun.
Running for Fun: a run of any length, not necessarily a race, that is enjoyable. It may be run in its entirety or parts may be walked. Pace is not the focus but the event often has a social aspect.
Yateley 10k - running for fun.
Racing: a timed event where the participant has a goal in mind and endeavours to reach it, usually at the expense of enjoying the event. Rarely social, unless you count sharing recovery shakes and cake afterwards.
Two triathlons in one weekend - don't let the smile fool you, it was very much not fun.
These are not cut and dried categories. I've done my share of "fun runs" that I've not really enjoyed that much, races that have been loads of fun but for the most part I could put all my events into one or other of these fairly happily.
Carnival du Nice - Fun for me, a race for Alex.
Tough Mudder - a "fun run" that was 100% not fun.
People tend not to stick at doing things that they don't enjoy so it makes sense that running should remain fun on some level. It's all very well to try to better yourself but if that's your sole goal every time you lace up your trainers and set foot over a start line then it's quite likely that resentment will set in swiftly. It's important to keep the fun in there as well. Which is why I've not raced every Yateley 10k event, why I sign up to colour, glow and fancy dress runs, why I run with friends sometimes.

Mum's first trail run - I *think* we both had fun.
If I felt after each run the way I felt after Tough Mudder, the Brighton Marathon, my double triathlon weekend or Gatliff Ultra then I would give up. It wouldn't be worth it, there would be no joy. And that's what I tried to explain to my dad, that's why people turn up to these fun runs, even the long distance runners. Because it reminds us where we started, that running can be fun, that it's not always about a time or a rank or a goal. Sometimes we're helping others, sometimes we want to take in the scenery, sometimes we just want to see what we can do in our comfort zone.
Brighton Marathon - achieved my goal, was over the moon despite what this photo may lead you to believe.
After Gatliff, my first ultra. I was enjoying the custard but not the memory of the boggy fields.
Dad is not a runner. He will walk laps of the park while I do parkrun, or meet me part way through training runs for an ice cream. Mum runs sometimes. She has several parkruns under her belt, a 5 miler and a 10k trail run. She even goes out of her own accord sometimes just because she fancies it. Mum, dad and I have signed up in a team for Glow in the Park London in November. It's highly likely that we won't run a single step, but it doesn't matter to us about our speed. What is important is that we have fun. Who knows what will stem from that.
Mum and I after 5 miles in the Olympic Park - definitely ran for fun.
 What's your ratio of fun runs : running for fun : racing? Do you agree it needs to be fun sometimes?

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