As far as races go, I’m competitive with myself but I’m not always about PBs. For me, running is about so much more that achieving a certain time goal come race day. And races really are more than a competition. It’s a chance to be a part of something that gets me beyond logging another weekend training run. So when I had the opportunity to run in the Shoppers Drug Mart Run For Women, in Toronto this past weekend it really underscored many of my biggest reasons for running.
The event, which takes place in 15 cities across Canada brings together runners and walkers, in support of women’s mental health initiatives across the nation. Research shows that participating in aerobic activity, like running, that raise your heart rate for at least 25 minutes a day can have the same affect on your brain chemistry as anti-depressants. And really, let’s face it as a nation, we could all stand to move more and here’s three more reasons and a bonus fourth that should get you lacing up and out the door.
Go Beyond Your Personal Best
After every race my daughters ask if I’ve won. I’ve never placed anywhere near the top three, or top ten in any race in my life but they don’t know this. Every time they ask, I tell them how much the race isn’t about winning or even placing, but that it’s about trying your best. Reality is most of us aren’t winning prize money but we’re winning with better health on many levels and that’s a life long lessons our girls and young women can use. With running, as in life, we’re not always going to be the best. Often times we never are best, but as long as we’ve given it our best shot, that’s all we need to do. Sometimes, some days, it’s good enough that you got out there and tried.
Oh What A Feeling
No matter how crazy the race, how god awful close to vomiting I may feel at any points in a race, in the last kilometer and then the last 500 meters, adrenaline kicks in and I feel like I’m flying. Truth be told, I’m probably not moving nearly as fast as I feel I am but it still feels pretty incredible and at that point in the race that’s all that matters. You don’t have to have battled through depression or anxiety to know that somedays can be an emotional roller coaster ride. We’ve all been there. As a runner, it’s those days when I might not feel like getting out there that I know I need it the most. On race day, the mood-boosting benefits can be even better, all the more to carry you through your day and even your week.
Running With Your Tribe
Most races I’m running alone, but in the sea of hundreds and sometimes thousands of runners, you never really are running solo. That’s the great thing about runners, its a pretty friendly crew that easily welcomes new members with a smile and wave. En route to the start line, spotting runners warming up with their race bibs and it seems like you’re all in it together. Its that camaraderie that’s a big reason many of us get hooked on what is often a solo venture. This time out for me, starting and finishing the race with fellow iRun contributor, Karen Kwan (aka Health & Swellness) made the race even more about the friendship that unties us runners. We’re both pretty independent runners, but hands-down its definitely way more fun cooling down and hanging out with a friend post-race, even if it is only to grab a few post-race photos.
BONUS: Did We Mention the Medal and Swag?
We didn’t, so here it is. Some races award medals, the Run for Women rewards runners with a specially designed bracelet for supporting women’s mental health programs. Then there’s the swag, basically a shopping bag packed with many of your favourite brands available at Shoppers Drug Mart. Like you needed any more reasons to get out there and run. We didn’t think so. While the last event rounds out later this month in St. John’s NL, grab your running pals and get ready for next year.