I’m here to talk about something that many (if not all runners) experience. It’s that feeling you have when you happen across a race you didn’t know was happening or you go out to the finish line to support a friend who is running. It’s called Run Envy.
Both of the aforementioned scenarios happened to me this past weekend. During my 10 mile run on Sunday I stumbled across the finish area of the Puppy Love 5k Run/Walk in Del Mar which had not yet begun. An unjustified ache to run the race came over me. I ran a half marathon one week before, my current run was 7 miles longer than the race and I don’t even own a dog, yet I wanted in on the fun of that 5k. Let’s not even get into the point that I doubt anyone actually races this race. Despite this, I was a tiny bit envious of the flow of bibbed soon-to-be race finishers that I spotted at my turn-around point.
Immediately after my run Mike and I were out the door to get to the San Dieguito Half Marathon in time to watch one of Mike’s good friends finish the race. I had never run or spectated this race but have always heard good things. The route winds through the scenic homes in San Diego’s most lavish neighborhood, Rancho Santa Fe. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful trees and possibly wildlife on this run, you can also daydream about the day when you can move into one of the five million dollar homes you run by.
Since it’s such a small race it was easy to find parking and the walk to the finish line wasn’t too far. The entire ride over I kept telling Mike what amazing race weather the participants were getting since it was in the high 40s. I also semi-jokingly lamented about how “hot” it always is when we race (i.e. last weekend’s Surf City Half Marathon was sunny and 70). We arrived just in time to see a friend of ours from the tri-club finish with a huge PR of 1:28.
As we watched the runners funnel into the finish chute both of us were becoming increasingly excited to run this race next year. We started fantasizing about how we were going to break the 1:30 (him) and 1:40 (me) mark there and how it seemed like such a great race to do it. The women finishing under 1:40 seemed just as fit as me – why couldn’t I do it?! I got more excited the longer I watched. Mike, who has recently proclaimed his retirement from endurance sports, was eagerly dissecting the benefits of racing at a smaller, more intimate race. We were in full Race Envy.
Race Envy can give you the same feelings as the Runner’s High – excitement, optimism, rapid chatter, and a desire to register for as many races as possible (Runner’s High sparked the conversation with Mike that led to me signing up for the Ironman). By watching other racers accomplish their goals, it makes you want to do it too. It probably had something to do with the coffee we were drinking or the fact that I was fresh off a 10 mile run of my own, but watching that race really inspired me to (want to) train harder. It actually seemed to be more beneficial than actually racing Surf City the week before.
There is something about watching people’s determination in those last hundred yards of a race that inspires you go after your goals as well. When you are racing, you focus only on your own race, not the race of others and typically rather than celebrate accomplishments, we end up picking apart our own performance.
Maybe Race Envy isn’t a bad thing!
Do you get Race Envy when you watch others race?