You've paid the entry fee, booked the hotel, arranged travel...there's just one problem: your body is unreliable. Maybe you've got a little niggle that comes and goes--maybe you have life stuff going on that creates big swings in how good or bad you feel day to day--whatever the specifics, you can't quite step on the starting line with confidence that your body will deliver on the day. Sound familiar? This blog is for you.
Well it's also for me. That's me right now. I've signed up for some races (including the Eugene Half Marathon this weekend) because I'm ready to get back out there and have some fun, and I MEANT to do all the training, but to be honest I just haven't totally found my momentum yet. Some days I skip it because I'm tired, or something hurts, or the day just gets away from me. Zooming way out I can definitely say that overall I am trending toward more consistency over time, but I'm not there yet.
Inner confidence to the trained athlete sounds like, "You've done the work! Hay is in the barn!" It's such a nice comforting thought to calm the nerves. Yeah, I don't have that.
I also have a tight arch that comes and goes unpredictably, and an abdominal cramp that strikes like lightening whenever it feels like it, or not at all. These things will get better with more regular training and self-care but again, I'm not there yet.
So what's a runner to do? Bail on the race? Unless you're straight up injured, my vote is to carry on and do it anyway. All you need is a mental tune up. Below are a few tips for how you could approach your next undercooked race and set yourself up for a positive experience.
1. Get real.
Leave behind any previous expectations you had for the race and determine what is realistic for today. This is a starting point to build on. Freeing yourself from an old story allows you to create a new one.
2. Put the top down on the convertible.
Open yourself up to the scenery, thank the volunteers, take in the sight of the other runners around you, the families, the spectators, and anything strange you may come across (which in Eugene is likely to be a lot!) When you have a looser goal, it is an opportunity to be more fluid and take more in. Even if you aren't going your all time fastest, a race provides an opportunity to take over the streets in community in a way you can't do any other day of the week. Some other time you can race with laser focus and nail all the tangents. This time you get to nail all the high fives.
3. Stay open to magic.
Don't count yourself out. Don't write the entire story in advance. Your new story is being written and it can go a lot of directions! Start at a realistic pace, but if you feel the urge to finish strong, do it! If you suddenly feel competitive with Jack ManBun in the last half of the race, do it! See a view you want to commit to memory? Stop and soak that shit in!
Those are the tips I am personally using for the Eugene Half Marathon this weekend. If you're going to be in Eugene for the half or the full, here is how we can connect!
1. Come see us at the Health & Wellness Expo during packet pick up
2. Holler on the race course!
2. Post-race party kicking off at noon at Oakshire Brewing (207 Madison st, Eugene, OR), bring your race number for $1 off pints!
Good luck to everyone! I hope these tips are helpful!
Peeing while racing, product and human name changes, at-home workouts for runners + cyclists, reflecting on performance, working out during work hours - yay or nay?
Rob Krar's first 50k was supposed to be a "one and done" affair. If you're looking to push your distance limits too, he shares some tips for surviving + thriving in ultramarathons.