Given that I have been back running now for more than 3 months, you would have thought I would have wanted to sign up for a race at the first chance I had in order to see where I am fitness-wise. Well, I may be different than a lot of folks are when it comes to racing and I firmly believe that I won't enter a race unless I am prepared to RACE it. Now obviously, there are some exceptions to the rule, like helping to pace someone or getting a comp'd entry or some really sweet swag. But as a whole, I have a pretty firm self policy on not signing up for races for the sake of signing up for races.
More specifically, my policy is this: It is a waste of money. Many may disagree. However, I have plenty of race shirts, so I certainly don't need more of those. If I need to run "x" miles hard, I'll just go out and do it. I don't need the excitement of race to be able to simulate that. Although, that race day excitement when I do race just gives me free speed when I do in fact race. Otherwise, the body begins to lose that magic race day sensation and races become just another day at the office...ho hum. Either way though, I see no point in spending my money when I can't find a specific reason for it. So that's my policy and I'm sticking to it.
Of course, there is also another side of things: psychological. When most people come back to something from an unplanned break, whether it be running or something else, they probably aren't as good at it as they were before they took the break. I have a hard time signing up for a race, when I can pretty much predict what I'm capable of or at least know approximately how it will turn out. I've been running long enough now to know my body pretty good. I know what a given easy pace might equate to or what an interval set at "x" pace might put me in a given distance race. After a while, you tend to notice trends in key workouts and how they result in specific race performances. So I also chose not to race, because of the potential psychological result of running slower times than I know I can run. In other words, I wanted to be in good enough shape so I can be proud (internally) with the result. It sounds kind of stupid though, because one can't always expect to be in top form all the time. I don't want to run a race and end up with an excuse of, "Well, considering I've only been running for 1 month...". So does that mean I won't let myself race unless I know I can hit a PR?
Absolutely not! But in this case, it is more to me about proving a
successful comeback from being down and out. I want to RACE and finish knowing that I prepared adequately and give it my all. I want to declare - "I'm back" with conviction.
This latest journey to me is more about a personal chase to be what I know I can be. So in a few weeks when I return to racing, I'll have no excuses. I've been working hard for a couple of months and know what I am capable of. Let's just hope my body is willing to show it!