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Race Day vs Race Entry

I recently put my name on the list of members who will be racing one of the half irons on the calendar of my triathlon club. Of course, I'm not actually registered for the race yet.

But my point with this post is that putting your name down to race is probably the second-best day of an endurance athlete's life...next to race day. So you can see why we get a little over eager.

A few triathletes and marathoners will probably try to argue that the first day of a training schedule is really the second-best day next to crossing the finish line. And I'll give you that it's maybe third. When I began running again, I was like most newbies and counted back 16 weeks on the calendar to circle that magic day of my first workout.

Now that I'm more experienced and know what to expect, I realize that going into Day 1 cold from the couch is probably just as much of a mistake as thinking you're going to squeeze in extra hard workouts during your taper. Or wearing a new pair of shoes to the start line. Or not knowing ahead of time how the on-course sports drink affects your stomach. I now try my best to have a decent level of fitness BEFORE I try to execute a training plan.

That's sometimes difficult. But at least I know what I should be doing in a perfect world. I live in Chicago, which is not the best place to try to be a year-round endurance athlete. Most of us are stuck on bike trainers or on treadmills for many months. Forget swimming if you don't have access to a pool.

Anyway, the idea is that veteran runners don't get too super excited about the start of a training schedule because it's "just" the beginning of work between registration and the finish line. At least that's what I'm arguing here.

There's a minor debate...more like an interesting discussion...among endurance athletes about what to call yourself if all you want to do is train and never race. I understand that mentality even if it isn't me. I'm of the opinion that not formally racing isn't a bar to calling yourself a runner or triathlete. We're a big umbrella sport. Welcome everybody who wants to be in the general vicinity of "I like to run/bike/swim many miles."

As I've written here previously, however, my personality requires a goal-oriented test of the organized sort. I don't need to win. But I need to have a date circled on the calendar that gets me out of bed knowing that I'll be standing at a start line with other prepared people to compete. Maybe it's like organized religion versus spirituality? Which is funny because I'm not a fan of organized religion per se, yet I love organized riding and racing.

I know it's completely possible to form a seasonal build/test/recovery without the Smithville Turkey Trot waiting at the end to cement everything together. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to getting out there--alone--on the roads. It's several hours a week to myself that I enjoy greatly.

But it's the cycle of race entry, training, race day that keeps me motivated. I'm looking forward to being back in-season.

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