For those that have run several races in their lifetime, I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend. There are three groups of “runners” out there.
Group 1: “The Elite” – these are the runners who immediately head for the starting line and have their game face on from the moment they lace up their shoes. They wear top of the line shoes, tiny running shorts, and possibly a technical shirt. They do not have friendly conversations with those around them. They are visualizing the run in their mind and they can see themselves crossing the finish line first.
Group 2: “Looking for a PR” – these runners are seasoned veterans of the running community. They look the part, but they already know that “The Elite” are faster than they are, so they don’t really have a shot at winning any prize. They make small talk with those around them, but stay relatively focused on warming up and getting ready to really push themselves. These are the daily runners who come out to race with others because it helps push them beyond their limits. They establish goal times for each race and work hard to accomplish them.
Group 3: “Social Butterflies” – these are the casual joggers, who may hit the road up to three times a week to train. They linger in the back of the pack and chat up a storm with the other runners around them. They compliment one another on their running gadgets and talk about what they should do post-race to celebrate. They are out there to get some exercise, but more importantly, to interact with others who just enjoy putting one foot in front of the other regardless of the pace.
"Look, I brought snacks! Hey, let's snap a quick photo!"
I waver between groups 2 and 3, depending on the race and the distance. Sometimes I feel great and use the other runners out there to really push myself. Sometimes I just lace up my running shoes and hangout with the joggers, chatting about other races in the area. The pressure we put on ourselves during races can either make running more or less enjoyable. I find that a careful balance should be struck. I will never be the next Kara Goucher…but I can go out there and push myself. And on the days when I just feel like enjoying the beautiful scenery and being surrounded by others who share a common passion for running, I just meander to the back of the pack and compliment the woman next to me on her awesome belt that holds up to 5 GU Packs!!!