This year marked my 10th year of consistent running, and the first year since I started that I didn't run a single race. A couple of good things came out of this year, the first of which is that I ran all year without being injured. Sure, there were a couple of times when one part or another was twingeing, but nothing developed from it.
The other thing I realized is that I don't need racing to hold my motivation. When I taught psychology classes, one of the concepts I covered was intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. People who are intrinsically motivated find their motivation deep inside themselves. People who are extrinsically motivated find it from outside sources - in the case of running, this could be races, people commenting on Facebook statuses about their workouts, prize money, etc. In examining my year-end mileage, I see that this year was one of my highest mileage running years (the highest was in 2007, the year after Pierce was born, when I ran 3 marathons). I ran 1240 miles, with not a single race or running partner for motivation. I run because my soul wants to, because it feels freeing and keeps me happy, and I don't need anything more than that.
That said, I'm going to try to race again in 2014. Not a lot. Maybe just one or two. I do have a race in mind. I'll see how it goes. It's low-pressure race, which I'll do for fun, if I feel like I can run it without injury. Mostly, I'm just looking forward to many more zen miles this year.
How about you readers? Are you still discovering things about yourself that are surprising? I hope 2014 is a great year for all of you!