Does the thought of the 80’s Run make you want to vomit? Are you sick of hearing about mud runs, glow runs, color runs, zombie runs, etc.?
You are not alone.
I wrote a post a while back about the Tough Mudder – which I would consider much more physically demanding than a half marathon – and I was shocked at the negative comments it received from our purists.
But I shouldn’t have been.
Why? I was there once too.
You know what I am talking about. You train and you train hard. When you line up to race, there is no joke. You are there to put it all out there. You are ready to take some names. This is serious stuff. This is not neon, glowing, muddy distraction.
When you see people doing their mud runs, color runs and glow runs, you think to yourself: “No way. I am not buying into those gimmicks. Those people aren’t serious runners.” Tell the truth: you feel you are above that.
Well, I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t.
Like I said, I’ve been there. When I started racing ten-ish years ago, there were no themed runs like we have these days. But I vividly recall any time every time my friends asked me to run a race where I wouldn’t be all-out racing, my mind instantly switched to no effing way. Go big or go home baby. I have worked too hard to do anything less.
What changed my mind? My Kids.
My kids have been running since they were wee little things. Since they were 4-5 years old, they ran kid’s runs and the local Capitol Mile race. They begged me to run a 5k since they ran their first 100 meter dash. I set my line in the sand: no 5k until you are at least 8 years old. Within a month or so after my oldest son turned 8, we towed the line for his first 5k.
Within seconds of running that race, I realized the key to making him love our sport was taking it in and enjoying it. Loving it. And guess what hooked him in? The fun. Jumping. Smiling. Feeling the sun on his face, running and having fun.
Within weeks, my younger son also ran a 5k (so much for that line in the sand). They are now 10 and 12 years old now and have run at least 30 races each. Some they race, some they just enjoy. They love it. How did that happen? They enjoy it. Remember that?
When our first local mud run rolled out, my kids found out and COULD NOT WAIT.
Even better, it did not disappoint. The race was 4.6 miles and my son flew through it and the obstacles with the biggest smile on his face. We have done it every year since (many times more than once as it is biannual). And yes, we even put on goofy costumes, ham it up, and have a great time.
As many of you know, I am also heavily involved in Girls on the Run, which is a completely non-competitive, fun running program. Sure, some of our girls are competitive and as coaches, we push them accordingly, but we also simply celebrate being independent, strong and awesome. These are things all runners should embrace, no matter their pace. Run, enjoy, be free, be strong, be awesome.
So here is what I have to say about fun runs:
- Do it. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Take a day off from your Garmin and your competitive side. Have some fun. You will thank yourself.
- Do it with fun people. Whether it is your kids, best friends, family or complete strangers, find a team and have a load of fun.
- Understand that it is a FUN run. Seriously. Chill out. Put on a costume. Paint your hair pink. Do it up.
- Know your race. Don’t assume all themed races are equal. Tough Mudder took me more than 2.5 hours and I did it with some serious bad asses. I was sore soRE SORE when I was done. This is much unlike most fun runs. I did Glow Run 5k with my kids – we were all thinking we’d jog – but it was a log jam with 99.9% of the participants walking.
- Go with it. There is some zen to running or walking for fun rather than racing.
- Don’t judge. I know SO many people who have gotten into running from these events. Maybe they’ll never be elite (but neither will I). I tip my hat to any event that gets people moving and embracing an active lifestyle. So if a friend tells you they did the Glow Run, tell them they rock and be happy for them.
Don’t be so serious all the time. FUN is important too.
Go participate in a fun run.
I double dog dare you.