Posted: Feb 25, 2014 7:00 AM
No matter what pace you run, registering for a race can help you stay motivated. Even if you never plan on beating anyone across a finish line, motivation — and these three other reasons — will have you signing up for a road race.

Sign me up for another race

My times will never garner a medal — besides the participant medals everyone receives at certain races. My legs never seem to take on that sleek, long signature runners' look. I don't like waking up while night still blankets the world with stillness. Yet I continue to sign up for road races and continue to cross finish lines well after the leaders of the pack are stretching on the sidelines with their bananas and bottled water.

Race for running motivation

A race is a deadline that can't be moved. If you're not ready, you'll have to sit on the sidelines, which is a blow financially — and to your ego.

Signing up for a race might be the motivating factor you need to lace up your running shoes each morning. Once you have a date marked for a road race on your calendar, it's tougher to roll over when your alarm beeps and tell yourself you'll start your training plan next week. A race is a deadline that can't be moved. If you're not ready, you'll have to sit on the sidelines, which is a blow financially — and to your ego. If you need a little extra motivation, sign up with a friend. Some races allow "team entries," or discounts for groups of runners, so you can save a few dollars and know you have a running partner the day of the race — one who expects you to be in shape that morning.

Train for a race and increase your fitness

Increasing fitness is a fantastic reason to undergo a running training plan and to sign up for a road race. If you're in a rut of running a handful of three-mile routes each week, sign up for a 10K instead of your usual 5K road race. Stretching your fitness toward a new goal will give you a framework for safely increasing your mileage, which will improve your running fitness.

Raise money while getting in shape

isolated running shoesRunning for charity is a fantastic way to stick to your running goals. Not only does fundraising for a run help the selected charity, but the additional focus on the race means it's at the forefront of your mind. You're talking to people about contributing, possibly doing fundraising drives or even participating in a run as a part of a large team. Many road races have a charity component involved, so part of your race registration will be donated to charity. Check with races in which you'd like to participate to see if there's an opportunity to raise and donate additional funds — many will have the necessary paperwork on their websites. If you're in the mood to really put your fundraising shoes to work, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program is designed to meld road racing and fundraising into one powerhouse team. The majority of funds raised goes to cancer research and patient care, and participants receive race support from sign up through training and all the way across the finish line.

Chase your own personal best

If you're still unsure about signing up for a road race, consider this last reason. While only a few elite runners ever see their names in first place in race results, each time you log miles between a starting line and a finish line you have a chance to race against yourself. Each race you run, you can set a new goal for yourself: a quicker time, crossing the finish line with a previously non-running friend or just making it across the finish line without stopping to walk. The feeling of accomplishment that waits at the finish line is the best motivating factor of all.

THe bottom line^ Racing is part of a motivating cycle of running and training for me. Thinking back on my races over the past few years makes me realize I haven't dedicated as much time to running as I would have liked to do. My head is ready for another race — and now I need to get my legs in finish line shape!

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