So, I’m running a half marathon this weekend. Or maybe swimming it. Depends on how you read the weather forecast. As I mentioned recently, I, umm, haven’t been running a lot. Other than a half marathon in Ireland in July and a half in Wisconsin in August plus Ragnar, I haven’t run more than 7 miles in a row since June. Oops.
The race I’m running is part of one of the Mainly Marathon series. For a lot of reasons (not the least of which is I’m totally untrained), I’m only running one out of the five this time. And I’m really only doing it to see the friends I made in the last two series I did.
I guess I should still set some goals, huh?
1. Finish with a smile on my face.
2. Take in fewer calories than I run off. (What can I say? I’ll pass the snack table every two miles and it has great stuff at it!)
3. Finish faster than my slowest half marathon ever (Kentucky, this year).
4. Finish with a PR and dry clothes. (Yeah, both of those are a pipe dream).
I know I can’t be the only one who has ever run or contemplated running a race for which I am not completely trained. Life sometimes gets in the way, injuries happen, time moves faster than you expect… So, while I can’t condone running a race undertrained (note that I did not say untrained), here are some tips for making that (probably poor) choice a bit safer.
1. Know your limitations. It’s one thing to be undertrained. It’s entirely different to choose to run a race when you are completely untrained for that distance. For example, I know my long runs have been a bit short for the last three months, but I’ve run 15 half marathons this year. It won’t be an amazing race, but I know I can cover the distance. But I would never go out and run a marathon on the amount of running I’ve done. I’m crazy, but I’m not insane.
2. It’s all about your attitude. Run the race to have fun. Talk to other runners. Chat with the volunteers. High five every kid who wants one. You aren’t going to set a PR, so you might as well have fun on the course.
3. Start slow. Walk when you need to. Duh.
4. Know your race. Does it have a time limit? Are there enough people running or walking or spectating to keep you engaged for what could potentially be a long walk? Do you need to take your own water because the aid stations will run out or shut down? The beauty of the Mainly Marathon series is that it’s a combo of half marathoners and marathoners. I will never be by myself and I will be far from the last one out there.
5. Most importantly, listen to your body. Are you undertrained because of injury? Will this reinjure you? Did you have a good base before the injury? Or are you like me, and just suffer a slump in your training? If you decide to do this thing, really pay attention to how you feel on race day. Be prepared to take a DNS or a DNF if you need to. No race is worth risking your running future.
When was the last time you ran a race without the proper training? How’d that work out for you?