9 Main Thoughts Runners Have While Racing
The buzzing of the alarm interrupts our slumber. But the sound sends shock waves through the body, eyes opening wide. We jump out of bed with an extra pep in our step and begin to get ready, dressing in the clothes laid out before bed. After double—and triple checking we have all we need—we head out to the venue to line up at the starting line. It’s race day.
But before our bodies get to racing, our minds are already at it. Thoughts race in our heads, louder than the excited crowd. Do I need to tie my shoe? Are my laces too tight? Do I need a sip of water? Should I use the bathroom? Do I have enough time to use the bathroom? Is my playlist queued? Will my Garmin battery last?
And then it’s final countdown to the start of the race and all we can hear is our steady quickened heartbeat. A deep inhale and we let go of all the nerves and happy jitters, and mentally focus with the bang of the gun.
At least we do for about 30 seconds.
As the wave of runners starts rolling down the street, thoughts already start flooding in before the sea parts and the pack opens up. There are at least 9 main thoughts runners have while racing.
We can all slow down now.
The race has just begun and we are guilty of always starting out a bit too fast. Blame it on excitement. But we are only a minute into the race and we already want to step on the brakes a bit and slow it down.
We might keep up the strong pace for the first mile, but at that point, the leaders of the pack are off in a far away distance and we are left wondering how the heck they run so fast?
The thing is we don’t want to lose the pack we are in. We rather wish everyone would just slow down. It seems like this is a good time to find our comfortably (fast) pace and buckle in for the rest of the race.
How much longer?
We love to run. We love to race. If we didn’t we wouldn’t even have signed up for the event in the first place. But one of the predominant thoughts we have while racing is how much longer we have to go.
It’s the inevitable “are we there yet.”
We count down the miles and the time. No matter how prepared we are for the distance, we find ourselves thinking about how much longer we have to go—probably within the first mile and during each mile after.
I really want to walk.
We’ve all reached that hard part on a race, whether it’s mile 11 or 20 in long-distance races or that uphill climb during a 5k that leaves us dragging our legs. This thought creeps in, and if the runner doesn’t push it out of their minds fast they can succumb to the temptation.
The worst is when we see someone stop running in front of us. It takes some serious willpower to pass on by without walking. Do not walk. We tell ourselves over and over—even though we really want to.
Just know that if we walk, it’s harder to start back up again. Push through. The good news is another thought will replace this one.
Is it over yet?
Unfortunately, that thought is sometimes is it over yet? We are digging deep and flying through the course, but we can’t stop thinking that we want those last miles to go as quickly as possible.
It isn’t over until we cross that finish line—or at least see it in the distance to give us that surge of energy to sprint to victory. We will probably think this ought multiple times throughout the race.
I’m having so much fun.
But the funny thing is in the next thought we are reminded how joyful and playful we feel in juxtaposition to the hard effort. Spectators cheer us on, giving us a power boost. We pass some music or other encouraging racers. Even a high-five or smile goes a long way.
We are in the zone and feeling good, light on our feet. It stops feeling like a challenge and more like fun. A smile graces our face and our stride quickens. We take in the scenery and start jamming to that favorite upbeat song that just came on.
How much [insert food here] can I eat after?
In between feeling great and feeling tired again, another thought consumes us mid-race. Food.
Let’s face it, we run to eat. And we already know that we burn enough calories to eat two cupcakes for a 5k and burn the equivalent of 21 cupcakes (about 3200 calories) in a marathon. That’s a whole lot of sugar. But well deserved. We also know that runners can enjoy a slice of pizza and beer after running a 5k since it only has about 352 calories. Go for the whole pie and a few pints when running a marathon.
Even if we don’t know the exact calorie breakdown, chances are we are doing some kind of math or at least justification for what we are about to eat. And we just can’t wait.
I would kill for water.
It might be the thought of food, but all of a sudden we are left parched. Ever run a hot a humid race and feel desperate for water? Since there are aid stations on the course, we often don’t bring our own stash of H2O. But after working hard and battling the heat, we are left feeling like we are crossing the barren desert. If only there was an aid station in sight. In this moment we would kill for a drink of water. (Even we just end up pourring it over ourselves.)
Then we pull to it but do not want to slow down to get off target pace. The end result is a face full of water—and some coughing—as we choke down a few sips before crumpling it up with Hulk-like strength and tossing that empty white paper cup to the side.
I’m never doing this again.
Then we get to the homestretch and think to ourselves, feet don’t fail me now. But every step forward is a fight and quitting would be so easy right about not. Too bad we aren’t quitters. We are never running a race again ever. Seriously, like never ever.
I can’t wait to do this again.
Then the finish line approaches and somehow we are brought back to life. The endorphins kick in and we are soaring on cloud 9. Everything falls into place, stride, speed, breathing, and we feel lighter and like an Olympian.
We cross that finish line, applause and cheers making us feel like we won the race. Soak at this moment because in this second we are all winners. We set a goal, chased it, and completed it. All we can think now is how we can’t wait to do it all again. We haven’t even gotten home yet are already are thinking, when is the next race?
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