By Hannah Alderfer, BA, CPT, FMSC & 3x Boston Bound!

My training is never more structured than when I’m preparing for a race, especially a challenging one. When I train for a race, I plan out my weeks and make sure to incorporate hard days, long days, and, most importantly, easy recovery days. I structure in lifting to fit my running routine and stretch and foam roll to make sure that I stay healthy and strong.

Free Gear
Of course I had to include this one! Race t-shirts and goodie bags, no matter how valuable or invaluable the items inside may be, make the racing experience all the better. Afterwards you can wear your gear proudly as a reward for all your effort. And some you’ll keep for years as a reminder of your hard work.

Meet Fellow Runners
Racing gives you a sense of camaraderie with your fellow runners. In any race I’ve run, there’s always a feeling that I’m enduring, conquering, and celebrating the run with everyone around me. You might find others to train with for your next race or simply a buddy to help you make it through that day’s race. Either way, you won’t be alone!

Great Exercise
What better way to get in a challenging workout than a race? No matter the race distance, you’ll likely be burning calories, challenging your aerobic (and possibly anaerobic) system, and improving your cardiovascular endurance more than during your average workout. Want to check out the number of estimated calories you could burn during a 5K? Then click on this link and punch in your numbers:

Call me crazy, but I’ll admit, because I’ve run for over half of my life now I like the feel of running, and especially running fast. Yet most days to push out mile repeats, hill sprints, or to spend half a day prepping, running and recovering from a long run, is not always appealing. Training for a race gets me out the door. I’m more motivated to run, to do the hard workouts I don’t always want to do otherwise, to run long, and even lift, stretch, ice and foam roll because I want to be ready for race day. When I don’t have a race planned I find it harder to lace up my shoes or become lazy in my training routine. Knowing that I have a race that I’m doing all of these things for pushes me to go above and beyond.

Do Good
Races often support a great cause. And most of the small, local races will raise funds for a cause that is within its own community. Whether it’s supporting a local high school team, fighting a certain disease, or supporting a number of other organizations such as Girls on the Run or Wounded Warriors. Even the big races, such as the Boston Marathon, allow runners (who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make the qualifying time in order to race) to raise money towards a charity in order to race. If you’re interested in running a race in Ohio that supports a great cause, check out this website:

Change of Scenery
Visiting and running in a new place can be one of the best parts about racing.  I’ve traveled all over the country to run races and have visited places I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. However, you don’t have to travel across states to run races and experience new running routes. Races closer to home can still show you new running routes, trails, or paths that you hadn’t known about before.

Strive for More
Racing itself is a completely different experience and will give even the most unambitious runners a competitive edge. Suddenly you will approach the start and finish line of a race with more gusto than during your average run. And when you’re joined alongside with hundreds or thousands of other runners, that feeling is easily multiplied. Whether you’re racing for fun, to improve your time, for better health, or to win, we all experience a little extra push on the race course.