19 Apr

Purist vs Fun Runner

Bill Irvine

When it comes to events, us runners are an opinionated lot. Some prefer no-frills, timed races while others enjoy events where the onus is less about time. runABC spoke to two runners with opposing views on the subject…

Bill Irvine admits to ‘never leaving the house without his Garmin’ and ‘would rather eat my own hair than enter a Color Run’.

So Bill, what appeals to you about timed events?
I really like beating previous times and seeing your improvement. Although I must admit my first ever 10K I was so hyped up I’ve yet to actually beat that time. I definitely have improved as a runner though.

What do you find off-putting about untimed events?
I suppose what I find off putting is those big awkward and embarrassing mass warm-ups that are put on by the aerobics instructor hired in for the day. I think it’s great that so many people run for charity but just because you’re wearing a neon nylon tutu doesn’t really make you any funnier or me more generous!

Are you a competitive person?
Only with myself! I can’t keep up with the club runners so instead I set myself goals for times to beat. For 10K I’m hoping to do about 50 minutes, for a half marathon 2 hours. I’m quite geeky about times.

Do you time your solo runs?
I can’t leave the house without my Garmin! I once had a nightmare race where my left wrist accidentally hit another runner’s and it switched my Garmin off. So I had to do the rest of the race ‘by feel’.

Would you ever enter a themed race?
Yes, I think I would if I some friends were doing it. I can see there’s a strong social element to them.

What advantages do timed races have over others?
I think a big advantage is the focus you get from being timed. There’s a sense of accomplishment that you just don’t get from untimed events. You can also analyse your splits/times and think, “that’s where I went wrong.” In that sense it can really help to make you a better runner and to understand how to improve your performances.

Do you have any events lined up?
Edinburgh Marathon. I’ve done a few half marathons before but this will be my first ever marathon. I’m looking forward to it!

Amy and stuartAmy Lea is a big fan of themed events such as Color Me Rad and the Sumo Run and thinks other runners should take themselves less seriously.

So Amy, what appeals to you about themed events?
They’re light hearted and they make exercise fun. I think it’s easier to rally your friends to do one as they’re not as intimidating as a timed run. You can take part without doing lots of training beforehand.

What do you find off-putting about timed events?
How competitive they are. If you run to enjoy yourself, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting good times. For some people, running almost seems like a punishment. They have to force themselves to do training. Having said that, I can see why people enter these events. They want to set measurable goals and timed events provide that. I just prefer to keep active and have a laugh at the same time.

Are you a competitive person?
No! Not in a running sense anyway.

Do you time your solo runs?
I turn my Fitbit app on my phone just to see the distance and to see the route, but I’m not interested in times.

Would you ever consider taking part in a timed event?
Maybe if lots of other people were doing it. I’d definitely consider doing parkrun if it wasn’t on a Saturday!

What advantages do themed events have over more serious ones?
You come away with a smile on your face and generally feeling good. Whereas if you do a serious  race, you probably feel quite sore and tired afterwards. Also, themed events are far more inclusive so you get a vast array of people. Anyone can do them!

Do you have any events lined up?
I thought about Marathon des Sables, but I’ll probably go for something more light-hearted.