To some runners, this is all that matters. To others, this doesn’t matter at all.
What matters to you? What would you consider a win or loss?
These are things that we should keep in mind when we plan our running.
We all run for different reasons. In fact, every runner I know actually runs for more than one reason. We have primary reasons, secondary reasons, and so on.
Whatever reason you run for, you should always keep those reasons and the order of priority in mind as you’re training and, if races are a part of your goals, racing.
If your primary goals are health and enjoying as many runs as possible, then your training should look different than someone whose primary goals are competition and maximizing athletic potential.
It’s not that you can’t have competitive goals or that other individual can’t care about the health benefits of running but these primary goals require different things. You can still run very well while prioritizing the health benefits and the other individual can still reap many health benefits of running while maximizing performance potential but you both will do so at different levels and through different methods.
You will train at a more moderate level, minimizing injury risk and optimizing the health benefits of your running. The more competitive minded runner will train at the edges, sometimes or even frequently taking calculated risks in order to optimize his or her race performances.
Neither of these approaches are wrong, as long as they align with the priorities of the runners who are using them. This is why one of the most important questions I ask the runners I coach is to tell me in a few sentences what their goals are. Their goals shape their training.
So be sure to ask yourself: how do you keep score? What are your goals? What will look like a victory as you look back on your running a year from now?