Reflections on Running #8: Reaching ‘Peak Race’

Taking a break from performance-focused racing has allowed me to recharge my batteries and remember why I started running in the first place, says Rick Pearson

Reflections on Running

You’ve heard of ‘peak beard’, the tipping point at which hipster facial hair became tiresome rather than trendy. But how about ‘peak race’? I’m not talking about the latest Skyrunning event, but the point at which constant racing ceases to be fun and starts to become a drag.

For me, this happened on Monday 25 April 2016, the day after the London Marathon. The six months beforehand had been packed with racing: cross-countries, 5Ks, 10Ks, even a relay race. In many ways, it worked. I set PBs over pretty much every distance (go me!) and booked my place at next year’s Boston Marathon.

But it was strictly business. Every run had a purpose, its success measurable only in statistics: average pace, distance covered, calories burned. Something was gained – a higher VO2 max, some bragging rights – but something was lost, namely the uncomplicated joys of running.

Since then, I’ve re-injected some fun into my routine. There have been untimed trail excursions on the North Downs Way, conversation-filled long runs with my wife, and a hilarious run-drink-run event on the streets of south London. I have no idea what the mile splits were for any of these excursions. But I do know they were all great fun.

And you know what? Having recharged my batteries and reminded myself of running’s more relaxing qualities, I feel like I’m ready to race again – starting this weekend at the Red Bull Steeplechase.

Rick Pearson

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