Out There: 6 Reasons Fun Runs Will Rock Your Socks Off (Plus a Super-Awesome Contest!)

It’s hard to take yourself seriously when the guy next to you is wearing an ape costume. Laughing while running enhances the mind-body connection that this is all supposed to be fun.

If you haven’t been doing fun runs lately, you’re missing out. Here’s six reasons why you should check ‘em out!

Written by: Susan Lacke

I’ve been asked why it seems like I’m always having fun with running and triathlon. I have no good answer other than to say I just am. It’s fun. I love endurance sports. I’m never going to be the best, but I’m pretty sure I’m one of the happiest.

My secret? In the midst of Ironmans and half-marathons and century rides, I do fun runs. Whenever I slap on my lederhosen for an Oktoberfest 5K or take part in a race ending with a mud pit, I laugh a lot. It’s hard to take yourself seriously when the guy next to you is wearing an ape costume. Laughing while running enhances the mind-body connection that this is all supposed to be fun.

If you haven’t been doing fun runs lately, you’re missing out. Here’s six reasons why you should check ‘em out:

1) There’s better prizes. If you do some searching, you can find races where athletes can take home local artwork, a new pair of knee-high stripey socks, or beer mugs. Sure, medals are cool – but can you drink your frosty post-race beer out of ‘em? Fun runs for the win!

2) It keeps you on your toes. Forget the age-groupers you’re trying to beat; if you know you’re about to get your butt kicked by a 70 year-old nun in full robe and habit at your parish 10K race, you’ll pick up the pace. Eat my dust, Sister Agatha.

3) You can play dress-up. Don’t deny it: You’ve been holding on to that magenta pantsuit in hopes it’ll come back in style. It ain’t gonna happen, buddy (and don’t even try the “but shoulder pads make your waist look smaller!” argument). But if you enter your neighborhood’s 80’s-themed 5K, you can at least dust it off for a day.

4) You get bragging rights. I only have one friend who’s run a full marathon in a Santa suit and beard in 70-degree weather. How he didn’t die of heatstroke is beyond me.  I have another friend who managed to run a 10K in a barely-there banana hammock without a single wardrobe malfunction. In a sea of PRs, BQs, LSRs, and DNFs, you really stand out when you can make everyone say “WTF?”

5) It reignites the spark. When we first start running, we’re infatuated by all the excitement and novelty. We can’t wait to get home to spend some quality time in our running shoes! Once we fall into a routine and a rut, it’s hard to get those same butterflies we once had. Suddenly, those same running shoes are as sexy as a catfish. Doing a fun run breaks up the routine and reminds us of those butterflies we once had.

6) You can win Competitor Swag! You just perked up a little bit, didn’t you? That’s right, folks – prizes! I want to see all your crazy costumes, extreme antics, and victory cartwheels from your fun runs. Go to our Facebook page and upload a photo of yourself doing a fun run (or e-mail your photos to CompetitorMagazineFB@competitorgroup.com), and you can be entered to win an awesome prize package from Competitor! Your photo may also be used in the print issue of Competitor Magazine. Winners will be notified on April 1, 2011, to honor the April Fools they really are.

So dig out those magenta jumpsuits and banana hammocks. You’ve got a fun run to enter.

See you Out There!

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Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Me at Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Look for her first print column in the March issue of Competitor, and follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke.

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