Getting fit is an excellent reason to sign up for a running race. But it feels a lot like your PE teacher shaking her finger in your face.

Here is a roundup of 9 much better reasons, FUN reasons, to sign up for that race you’ve been reading about when no one is watching.

#1. Runners laugh a lot.

From the neighborhood 5K to the big annual marathon, you’ll find a happy bunch of road warriors at the race. Forget headphones. You can huff and puff with company all around you.

#2. The scenery is awesome.

Whether the race takes you through downtown or through parkland, there is an ever-changing scene to watch and enjoy. If you sign up for one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons, you can also enjoy great music along the way.

#3. You’ll feel like a winner.

Choose a race for your own reasons and you’ll never have to worry about motivation. It will well up from deep inside when you set a goal that means something personal to you.

It’s entirely different than when you do it to satisfy the hectoring  of family, coworkers or well intentioned “experts.”

#4. You get bling.

These are so cool. You don’t even have to brag, just casually walk your friends over to where you have it on display.

#5. You get swag.

Bling or swag, it’s great to open your race bag and find all sorts of training food, salves, maybe even socks or a hat. Best of all is the t-shirt that you can wear to work on casual Fridays.

#6. You prove something to yourself.

If you are longing to break out of your comfort zone, a 5K is the way to start your journey. It is a safe way to push yourself, step by step, out of the cubicle and out of the box.

#7. You can support a cause.

Your entry fee will often be donated to a charity. You’re not just running a 5K. You’re also taking part in something bigger than yourself.

#8. You get endorphins.

These chemicals are a natural side effect of regular running. They are much like morphine, helping to reduce pain and increase positive vibes in your brain.

#9. It has ripple effects.

With all the fun reasons to sign a race, hopefully your entire focus isn’t  centered on getting healthy. But the fact is, you will most likely end up healthier after your training and your race.

Without really thinking about it, you’ll start eating cleaner, sleeping better and cutting back on junk food, cigarettes and alcohol.

The trick is to let this happen in the background, like an upgrade on your computer. Don’t focus on it too much or it will take away from enjoying the process.