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THE (OTHER) BUCKET LIST

NEWSFLASH: THERE’S MORE TO RACING THAN PBS, MEDALS OR EVEN FREE BANANAS (THOUGH, LET’S FACE IT, THEY’RE A BONUS). HANNAH EBELTHITE LOOKS AT SOME OF THE EVENT EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER, HAPPIER RUNNER

Way back in 2012 I had a pretty rough racing experience. It was a half, I won’t say which, and part of the training for my first full marathon. I toed the start line determined to run a PB. I did – simply, I think, to get it over and done with quicker. And it remains one of the most valuable races I’ve done.

What was so horrible about it? It was 2°C and a combination of pouring rain, driving sleet and wind. Barely any supporters had turned out (understandably), none of my fellow runners smiled or chatted and the marshals looked furious. Oh, and I’d rocked up completely unprepared, with no towel or change of clothes. I had to travel home in my sodden running kit and, unsurprisingly, came down with a chest infection that put paid to the rest of my marathon training.

Why so valuable? It gives me mental strength to recall getting through such a tough couple of hours. To this day, if I’m worried about a race, I think, “Well it can’t be as bad as that one.” And my kitbag now is so well stocked I’m prepared for every possible weather system or eventuality – I’ve never been caught out since.

My point is that there’s something you can take from any race experience, positive or negative. There’s always a lesson, whether you loved it, things didn’t quite go to plan, or you’re still bruised from hitting the wall. As sport and exercise psychologist Evie Serventi puts it, ‘There’s no failure, only feedback.” So take advantage of the wealth of races out there this summer and autumn, and see if you can bag yourself a few of the following:

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About Women’s Running

Start running today with the July issue of Women’s Running magazine, on sale now! In this beginners' special, we've got a step-by-step guide to going for your first few runs, with expert input from coaches and advice from the Women's Running team - trust us, we've been there! Resident GP Dr Juliet McGrattan helps you overcome your barriers to running, and we'll also give you eight great reasons to start today. Already a runner and need to step things up? We've got an eight-move Pilates workout for you, plus for the dedicated athlete, we'll show you 10 next-level exercises to strengthen your core. Plus, don't miss part two of our 2017 Ultimate Race Guide, detailing 100 must-do races from now till December.