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The {ontherun} Guide to Racing for Fun

I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m not exactly the most successful “run for funner” out there. I’m so notoriously bad at it, in fact, that EC has started placing bets before every race I claim I’m just doing for “fun.” The deal is that if I do end up racing, I have to pay him.

Spoiler alert: I (supposedly) owe him a lot of money.

I say the line is too blurry to really know who won the bet, and have yet to pay up.

But the fact of the matter is that even when I go in with the best of intentions, there’s just something that comes over me on race day. Because deep down, my warped, twisted mind actually thinks competing is fun – in a “this hurts so good” kind of way.

So if I wanted to keep myself from competing* in last night’s Blessing of the Fleet 10-mile race (and avoid repeating this awful race strategy), I knew I needed to come up with plan. What follows is my definitive, super expert guide to racing purely for fun.

The {ontherun} Guide to Racing for Fun

1.) Choose your race wisely.

This is key. The right race can make all the difference in how you feel when you’re running it. Rhode Island might be a tiny state, but the Narragansett Lions Club sure knows how to put on a race! Road closures, tons of water stops, awesome crowd support along the entire course – it seriously was like one great big party out there.

2.) Choose your race outfit wisely.

The brighter the better. Bonus points if your shirt matches your shoes. And if you race in a skirt (yes, Dad, I raced in a skirt. Please don’t disown me).

DSCN0728.JPGYou can’t see them too well, but rest assured that the colors in my shirt and my shoes are a perfect match. Score!

3.) Make sure that outfit matches your {ontherun} partner.

It’s a well-known fact of life that coordinating outfits lead to fun races. How can you not have a good time when you look this good?


4.) Travel to the race in style with the {ontherun} crew.

Races are always more fun when you have someone there who can help calm those nerves….and feed you treats before the starting line.

DSCN0715.JPGStill not quite sure what she put in those things…

Yep, it’s always better to go to a race with someone who has a calming presence. Who will say really nice things to you before the start and build you up, not tear you down. Someone just like Becky


5.) Break the tried and true “don’t try anything new on race day” rule.

Okay, so this one has the potential to be a little dangerous, but nothing takes the pressure off quite like trying a bunch of new things on race day. Last night’s race represented a lot of firsts for me – first evening race, first time running a long race in my flats, first time running a real race in a skirt (relays don’t count), first time running with nuun (maybe I shouldn’t admit this since they are taking me out to Oregon for HTC next month but…I just love running with water!).

Some of those firsts were actually huge successes! Even though there were way more water stops than I had expected, I was surprised by how happy I was to have nuun with me. The air was so thick with humidity that I was drenched within the first mile, and thankful for the extra hydration. Running in the Adios was also a great choice. The bottoms of my feet were a little sore at the end, but I felt as light as air the whole way (Asics, I’m sorry but I’m starting to seriously cheat on you). The skirt, however – well, let’s just say that this article of clothing will continue to be reserved for “fun” runs.

DSCN0719.JPGThis is my “laugh all you want, but I know I’m rockin’ this look” face

6.) Resist every urge to sprint out at the start when every man, woman, and 5 year old child surges out around you.

Seriously, I’m not sure whether these people thought we were running a 5K or what, but people were crazy at last night’s start. It was all I could do to not get caught up in it. Even though I consciously put on the brakes, the first mile was still much faster than I had planned.

7.) Tell yourself that you are not, under any circumstances, allowed to run under 7:30s for the first 5 miles.

Okay, well, maybe for just a couple. It must have been all downhill…or something.


8.) Make a race playlist that includes cheesy tunes that you publicly make fun of but secretly find super motivating.

The lyrics might not be the deepest, but I promise you – nothing pumps you up more on a run than songs like Jordin Sparks “I am Woman” or Seal’s “Amazing.” Laugh now, but you try listening to them and not start believing that you’re awesome.

9.) As a reward for (trying) to hold back during the first half, give yourself permission to just run by feel for the rest of the race.

I used my Garmin a lot during the first 5 miles to keep my pace in check. But once I passed the halfway mark, I stopped looking at it and just started running. There was a lot of gradual downhill in the second half of the race and last night I just felt like flying. Maybe it was all the kids lining the course giving high-fives, or the spectators blaring music on the front lawn. Maybe it was the shoes, or the nuun, or the fact that I was in a really good mood. For whatever reason, running just felt so dang good. And I’ve learned that when running feels that awesome, your best bet is to embrace it.


So I came up with a new plan – run negative splits.


10.) And when the race has been run, celebrate your success with a friend!

Perferably one who is just as crazy about running as you are.


There you have it. 10 simple steps to ensure your next race is a blast. Especially when it means that your long run is out of the way, and a whole weekend of relaxation is ahead of you.

Final stats (official):

Time: 1:13:21 (7:20/mile)

Place: 245/2,614 (17/382 in AG)

I think I’ve found my new favorite race!


*I use the term “competing” loosely here. Truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to compete last night even if I wanted to. There were some crazy fast runners there. Exhibit A: top 10 females all averaged 6:41/mile and under. And the winning female came in under an hour. Meaning she ran sub-6 minute miles for 10 miles! Rock star. (Side note: apparently she’s from Providence. Maybe I should hunt her down and beg her to teach me her ways??

16 Responses to The {ontherun} Guide to Racing for Fun

  1. I am soo happy for you. I am glad this non-race worked out. I am consciously choosin not to congratulate on a fast pace but rather on what a smart, successful, fun race you had. I know it can be so hard not to get caught up but you had a goal and you stuck it. you continue to amaze me, congrats again :)

  2. Sometimes I really feel like when you let all of that usual nervous pre-race stuff go, you end up running great. Probably because we waste a lot less nervous energy! Love your race outfit, btw!

  3. Haha I love how sarcastic your blog posts can be…no miles under 7:30? Yeah, right! I had the same incident with the whole “I’m using this as a fun run!” situation this weekend as well…I guess there’s something about getting on a starting line that just makes us want to RUN!

    Speedy speedy race, congrats!

  4. Also, I just looked at my 10 mile split for my half this morning, and it was 1:13:26. I’m pretty sure we’re meant to be running buddies…

  5. Nice work! It looks like you guys had a ton of fun, and I love your shirts!! Want. It’s so hard to force yourself to stay within a certain pace or hold back, especially when you’re feeling good! And when you’re competitive by nature. I usually change the rules as I go like you :) Or just end up not running a lot of races when I shouldn’t be racing because I can’t be trusted.

    The key to me for having fun is great running buddies around me too! Glad you had such a blast!!

  6. I am so happy that you ran this race and loved it just as much as I did! When I ran it for the first time last year, I left with a new favorite race. Clearly, we have an {ontherun} connection. It was such a fun night! And now we have a new tradition!

  7. Awesome job Lauren! I love that you have trouble racing for fun, You’re just too darn awesome :)

    I also love that you broke the nothing new on race day rule! That one is so over-rated anyway. Love the neon!

  8. I NEED THAT SHIRT. The outfit = rocking. Loved that the shirt matched the shoes.

    I seriously think going in wanting to have fun or having a particularly good association with a race makes me perform better — ie the Boilermaker.

    Also, cheesy songs – I’ll add that to the marathon play list! (I don’t listen to music in races, but before the race I do sometimes!). I mean, hey, I write cheesy quotes in my planner!!!

  9. I’m always on the fence about racing for fun – I used to do it a lot more when I first moved to NYC (there are awesome, well-organized races in Central Park every weekend, gah!).
    It’s an great way to fit in a long marathon training run or tempo workout, but as you said there’s always the temptation to go too hard.

    Sounds like you had a successful 10-miler – those are some solid splits and most importantly it looks like you had a smile on your face the whole time :)

  10. sounds like so much fun! i love the running outfit. and that smile tells me you found a way to hold back and still have fun. perfection.

  11. I’m so proud of your attitude!!! Sounds like you went into this race with the right one and finished with a smile on your face and a nasty fast last mile split I may add. I wish I was there!

  12. The last picture of you guys is my favorite….you two have so much fun together!

  13. Aw, your pictures from this race are so cute. I love the new shirt and how it matches your shoes perfectly! I’m also happy for you that you were able to have a fun and relatively laid-back race. Congrats!!:)

  14. You and Becky are too cute! Love the pictures. Congratulations on a great race, and I am really happy you were able to do it for fun! It’s not always easy for me either (although more recently I’ve been more capable of running races not to my full potential) so I can understand. Your competitive natures gives you so many benefits as a runner, so even though it can be annoying sometimes, I think mostly it is a huge asset! Congrats again, Lauren! Sorry I had to miss it (ended up being at work until 7pm that night…)

  15. Glad you enjoyed the run! So nice to finally meet you. Hopefully I will see you again on Sunday for the Rock n’ Roll half! Great job with the 1:13!

  16. Awesome! I tried to run for fun this weekend… it was hard but I definitely want to sign up for some more “fun” races assap!

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