Debunking common myths surrounding endurance sports races

The last year has seen a running boom unlike any other. As the world came to a standstill, and we all swapped the daily commute with a short walk to the living room, the allocated 1 hour of daily exercise became a source of escape for most. During a time when we were locked in and our lives restricted, it was this simple form of exercise which liberated us.

The numbers paint a similar picture. Between March – May 2020, Strava reported a mind-blowing 82% increase in outdoor recorded activities, while our own surveys have shown that over 50% of people either ran more, or took up running during lockdown.

Yet, despite the huge surge in outdoor exercise, there still appear to be a number of barriers stopping many of these newfound enthusiasts from taking the next step, and participating in events. Keen to find out more about what’s holding them back? We’ve investigated further to see how many of these myths we can dispel.

Fear #1: I’m not quick enough

We hear this one time and time again. Be it speaking to someone who’s only recently entered their first event, someone who is still on the fence, or someone who waited 20 years before racing – fear of being too slow is commonplace. However, those inside the community – who’ve already made the jump from running to racing  – will testify that this is absolutely not the case.

Sure, there are some people who run fast, really fast. But there are far more people who don’t and at Let’s Do This, we race for joy, not times. Take it from Darren Gillett, who we spoke to after a recent trail running race, “It doesn’t matter how skinny you are, how fast you are, how slow you are, how big you are, nobody looks down on you – everyone’s supportive.

Did you know?

The average 5k running event finish time in the UK is 33:54.

The average 10k finish time in the UK is 58:08.

And that’s only an average, there are plenty of runners who race far slower than that, but still have an epic time.

Darren Gillett, having just completed Doddington Place Gardens 10k

Fear #2: Races are too intense

Bustling start lines? Runners spitting? Diving to cross the finish line? These are all commonly held assumptions of things which go down at races. Well, let us break them down for you. Now more than ever, start-lines are a friendly and relaxed place, where people line up with a smile on their face and stride in their step. Spitting? Not a chance, this is an absolute no-no within the racing world. The finish line? Sure, there will be a buzz but it’ll be one of elation, relief, and achievement – not of intensity.

Afterwards, you’ll find people hanging around, enjoying a chat, perhaps a cold drink and a hot slide of pizza. There’s a reason it’s called race day, because it’s not about the 1 or 2 hours of running, it’s about the whole experience, from start to finish. Not convinced? Check out our video from a recent event.

Fear #3: I’m not competitive

Retweet. Admittedly, the word ‘race’ holds extremely competitive connotations. Don’t worry though, we’re here to break them down. Just as races aren’t necessarily about times, nor do you have to be competitive to enjoy them. Something which we always stress to first time entrants is that you’re not racing against people, you’re racing with people.

From volunteers cheering you on at every bend to event organisers grafting away behind the scenes to the stranger you meet on the start line, a race is a group activity which covets community and shared experience, not competition. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you’re first or last, everyone crosses the same finish-line.

Fear #4: These aren’t my people

There’s a common saying that goes, “if you run, you’re a runner.” Well, to add to that, if you’re a runner, you belong at races. Many people think that this smaller community of runners who enter and compete at events are exclusive, cliquey, and unfriendly – this couldn’t be further from the truth.

We asked over 500 runners from across the UK why they took part in mass participation running events. In total, 29.7% people’s number one reason was because they are full of people like them, with a shared passion for running. Events are only as good as the people who attend them and, if you’re reading this, then these are absolutely your people. In this inclusive and friendly community, everyone is welcome and no one is judged.

Ready to make the jump and enter a race? Well, now’s your chance. No risk, no story.

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Born and raised in Scotland, Aidan is an avid trail-runner and wannabe cyclist. Having only got into endurance sports a couple of years ago, he loves the sense of adventure and freedom they provide.

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