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An Ode to Racing: Why we race!

As racing returns in certain parts of Europe we thought the time was right to talk about racing and what it means to us. In this article we look at how racing makes us feel alive, how it teaches us lessons about ourselves, how learnings can be transposed to other domains in our lives and how it helps create structure and motivation. We would love to hear from you as well, share with us your reasons for racing, tell us what makes you toe the line and why you race and compete!

Why Race? To Feel Alive!

People may wonder why we (the big WE, as in athletes) race, and why we put ourselves through the trials and tribulations of testing our physical and mental limits. The simple answer is because it makes you feel alive. The reality is, there’s nothing that compares to that feeling of standing on a start line (or floating in the water and simultaneously peeing in your wetsuit if it’s a triathlon), with butterflies in your stomach, a tingling feeling in every muscle fibre in your body and that thought in your head that says “why the hell am I doing this?”. But once that starter’s gun goes off everything is forgotten; you can block everything out from your mind and focus solely on the task at hand – racing. Racing is much more than just a Runner’s High. There are several elements that can’t be replicated without a start line, a finish line, a clock and some competitors. There is the apprehension and the nerves, the element of unknown and a deep-seated desire to test one’s limits against one’s competitors and the clock.

There is a true sense of freedom that comes with racing, a sense of liberation that stems from living in the moment, from being in tune with your body and focusing on the physical task at hand.

Nothing can compare to the feeling when you reach that point of no return, when your muscles are burning, your extremities are going numb and your lungs are screaming to stop, that’s when you know you’re alive!

Why Race? To Test Your Limits!

There is a deep sense of fulfilment that comes from finding your limits, testing them, and in some cases pushing past them to achieve something you never thought possible. Racing is an opportunity to gauge one’s progress and figure out where your mental and physical limits lie. You can train year on year and see your numbers and times evolve, but if you never put it into practice in a race, you’ll never know what those numbers truly mean. Moreover, you’ll never know if you had the mental strength to surpass those numbers and your perceived limits. The intrinsic link between mental strength and physical performance is undeniable in a competitive setting, and every time you race it’s an opportunity to test both your physical and mental limits.

Why Race? To Learn More About Who You Are!

Intrinsically linked to the testing of your limits is the desire to learn more about yourself. Racing is a microcosm of life, it’s an opportunity to question your limits, achieve incredible things, learn from mistakes, and most importantly prove to yourself that you can set a goal, working towards it and achieving it. Racing is a great way of developing a self confidence and self belief that you can transpose to other parts of your life, whether it be related to business, family or any other type of endeavour. When you’re deep in the hurt locker, faced with the decision to quit or to push through, that is when you have an opportunity to find who you really are and what drives you.

Why Race? To Compete

Throughout human history people have enjoyed organising and taking part in competitions. Whether it be tribal wars for territory, games of football for local pride or the Olympics to determine the best sporting nation, the desire to compete and to compare is engrained in human nature. Whilst most people rarely have an opportunity to win, the reason many of us sign up for races is to provide ourselves with an opportunity to compete and to compare ourselves to our peers. Whilst it’s not necessarily healthy to draw self worth from the results themselves (it’s better to draw it from your performance, regardless of the actual result), competition is an opportunity to get the best out of yourself and to prove to yourself what you can achieve. As mentioned previously, it is rare or even impossible to extract the same level of performance in training compared to what you can do in a competitive setting.

Why Race? To Have A Why!

Finally, we race to have a Why. A reason to get up in the morning for an early swim, a reason to go for a run instead of a pizza during a lunch break, a reason to get on our bikes at the weekend and explore the local roads. Having a race, and a line in the sand for which to aim, is a great source of motivation. It gives you a project, a goal, and a reason to plan and to stick to that plan. Motivation can come and go in waves, but knowing that there is start line somewhere in the future is often enough to get you moving and keep you moving in the right direction towards your best physical performance.

What does it mean to Toe The Line?

So, what does it mean to us to Toe The Line? It provides meaning for our daily training. It provides an opportunity to compare ourselves to our past self and to our peers. It teaches us who we are and what we can do. It gives us self confidence to aim for and achieve goals outside of sport in our day to day lives. And ultimately, when we have those butterflies in our stomachs, those twitching muscle fibres throughout our body and the deep burn of lactic acid in our legs, it makes us feel alive!

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