From Training to Travel: Running Races in Beautiful Places
While most of us know exercise is important for maximum health and wellness, if it’s not already part of our daily routines, then getting started can be a challenge. Some of us require extra motivation to commit to exercising. Special events, vacations, and even health scares can provide the incentive needed to get moving. But, here’s another idea: destination races. Whether a 5k, 10k, half, or full marathon, this may be just what you need to jump-start a fitness plan. Before you say no way, consider the rewards. Not only will you be improving your overall fitness, but you'll also share a fun travel experience with people close to you!
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of participating in races and how to get started with training, We'll also provide information on popular races in the Southeast. So, let's lace up our shoes and get started!
Benefits of Race Participation
Many of you will need a lot of convincing to be won over, especially the non-runners, but did you know walking is an option? Whether walking or running, participating in a race is a fantastic way to challenge yourself physically and mentally while spending meaningful time with others. And, don’t let the word race scare you away. While there are die-hard competitors out there trying to break records or qualify for the Boston Marathon, many participate on a more casual level. Whether you're aiming to beat a personal record, complete a distance you've never attempted before, or simply cross the finish line to say you’ve done it, there are countless benefits to races.
One of the most significant reasons to commit to a race is improved fitness. In today’s world of medical advancement, people are living longer than they were a few decades ago. However, ensuring quality of life, and not just quantity, is key. Training for a race requires regular exercise, which can lead to weight loss, increased muscle tone, and improved cardiovascular health. Not only will you be getting in better shape and improving the quality of your health, but you'll also be reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Improved Mental Health
Another benefit of racing is improved mental health. You’ve heard of a runner’s high, right? Running has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Some studies also show running may enhance short- and long-term memory. In addition, participating in a race can provide a sense of accomplishment that gives an unexpected boost to your self-esteem. And, don’t underestimate the impact the sense of community and support mean on race day. It’s incredibly uplifting and motivating to have people you don’t even know cheering you on!
Time with Others
Need more reasons to sign up? Running in a race can be a fun and rewarding way to connect with others. Whether you're training with friends, family, or a running club, the camaraderie and encouragement from others can be a huge motivator to keep pushing yourself and striving for your goals. The accountability of meeting others for scheduled workouts is the only way to get some people to show up - you know who you are! And, while exercise can be grueling, enduring it with a friend can help pass the time and even distract from some of the discomforts that go with the territory. Not to mention that time spent with others also helps boost happiness and health while creating a sense of belonging.
Travel to New Places
While all of the benefits named so far are invaluable on their own, this one is the cherry on top of the racing sundae: exploring new destinations. To many, this is where the adventure comes in and training gets turned into travel. Turn your hard work into a girls’ weekend in Savannah, GA, a father/daughter trip to Nashville, TN, or a family excursion to Charleston, SC. If it’s a location you’re interested in visiting, chances are a race will be scheduled there at some point throughout the year.
Now that you’ve made the decision to race, there are several things you’ll need to do and keep in mind as you get started.
1. Identify your training partners. Whether it’s a handful of neighbors, members of your extended family, or favorite co-workers, rally others who are willing to commit to training and competing with you.
2. Determine the distance you want to run whether it’s a 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), half–marathon (13.1 miles), or full marathon (26.2 miles). Ideally, everyone in your group would choose to run the same distance, but there may be a few who choose a slightly easier or more challenging option.
3. Decide which race to run. You may want to base this decision on the season (making sure you have ample training time), the area you want to visit, or a combination of the two. Most races raise funds for charity or a particular need such as school funding, so investigate this while you’re researching options. You might make a choice based on a cause near and dear to your heart. Also, many races provide routes for each distance, so if some members of your training team are running a 5k while others are doing a half, make sure both are covered. There are many locations, dates, distances, and causes to choose from so have fun narrowing down your choices and making your final selection! A few suggestions are provided below.
4. Select a training plan to help you stay on track at a pace that works for you. For beginners, make sure to start slowly and gradually build up your endurance. A good training plan should include a combination of running and cross-training exercises, such as cycling, swimming, or strength training. Cross-training can help prevent injury, improve overall fitness, and keep your workouts interesting and engaging.
5. Gear up! For shorter distances, a list of essential running gear will be sufficient. If you plan on longer distances, you’ll want to consider additional items such as energy gels and chaffing products.
6. Get going but pace yourself! Pay attention to your body and listen to any pain or discomfort signals it sends you. Take a break from training for a few days if needed. If the problem persists, make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out. It’s always best to be proactive to prevent any long-term damage.
7. Consider finding a running group for your tribe to join. Especially if you’re new to racing, a running group can provide valuable leadership and education on training, gear, nutrition, and more. Check out your local running shoe stores to see if they have a program or search online for running clubs in your area.
Race to a Beautiful Place
Now that you know the benefits of participating in races and how to get started with training, it's time to take a look at a few amazing race destinations to get the wheels turning.
The Disney Marathon is possibly the most popular marathon of all - it’s definitely the happiest! This race takes place in January and sells out quickly so you have to act fast to get a spot. Once you do, regardless of the distance you run, your course will take you through the Walt Disney World Resort where you’ll be entertained by beloved characters along the way. If you choose to make this happy place your home, you’ll find even more magic in the master-planned community of Trilogy Orlando.
The Spinx Run Fest offers a 5k, half, and full marathon that take place in Greenville, SC, every October. Get a feel for this award-winning town as you run from Fluor Field, down tree-lined streets, and along the famous Swamp Rabbit Trail. From its impressive Main Street to the mountains and lakes that lie just beyond its borders, Greenville offers something for everyone. From urban living opportunities like Falls Tower Camperdown to master-planned communities like The Cliffs Valley, more and more people are not only visiting Greenville but calling it home.
In April of each year, Nashville hosts the Rock-n-Roll Running Series featuring races of all distances. You’ll run past iconic landmarks like the Country Music Hall of Fame and cross the finish line in the Tennessee Titans stadium! Not only is Nashville a great city to explore, but it’s a great place to live. If you want to put down permanent roots here, check out Icon in the Gulch for an urban living option or the master-planned communities of Fairvue Plantation and Westhaven.
Crossing the Finish Line
Participating in a 5k, 10k, half, or full marathon is a fantastic way to challenge yourself physically and mentally, improve your overall fitness, connect with others, and explore new places. With proper planning, training, and support from friends, family, or a running club, anyone can complete a race and experience the exhilarating rush of crossing the finish line!
If you're looking for a race to participate in, consider one of the popular races in the Southeast. Whether you're a seasoned runner or a beginner, there's a race out there for you. So, what are you waiting for? Start training!