Grete Waitz is a legend and I always think of her when I hear people complain that they are running a race but they didn’t train well. (Often it is me LOL)
She had never run farther than 12 miles before her first marathon in New York in 1978. Not only did she finish the race, but she won it – and set a course record. At age 25.
Most unprepared runners aren’t so lucky.
So if you are signed up to run a big race and have not adequately trained for it, here are some things you can do:
- Consider your alternatives.
Some races allow runners to switch from a marathon to a half-marathon, a half to a 5K, or to enter a relay with friends rather than completing the entire distance alone. You can also try contacting the race director to see if you can transfer your bib to next year’s race. Volunteering to give out water or simply cheering are also good ways to be part of the race without risking injury.
But if you’re committed to running the entire race. All hope is not lost. You just have to approach the race with the strategy and mindset of a champion – even if your training was anything but.
- Prepare Your Body
Sometimes life or your body gets in the way of your training.
So two weeks prior to the race, do not do anything crazy. The last thing you want to do in the final two weeks is squeeze in those long runs because you think that you will be better prepared for the race.
The best thing you can do is just get a few short runs in to keep your legs fresh.
In other words, don’t cram in those miles.
- Prepare Your Mind
It’s even more important to manage your expectations when entering a race with little training.
It is very unlikely that if you didn’t train for the race that you will achieve a PR or BQ.
Remember to celebrate FINISH LINES not FINISH TIMES.
- Race Strategically
Once the gun goes off, hold yourself back. Pace yourself, take walk breaks and even take time periodically to stop, stretch and massage any muscles that are getting tense.
You can also play mind games with yourself. Think about the race as smaller segments – a half marathon could be broken into about four 5Ks races, for example.
Another hint is to “Run the mile you’re in” rather than thinking about all the miles you have YET to run and how hard it will be to finish the race distance.
Try to maintain positivity, not panic. This is the real trick to finishing a race when you’re under-trained.
I’m certainly not an expert but something special happens on race day. You have support, you have crowds, you have water stops, and more.
You will be mentally fired up in a way that you cannot be for any training run – that’s why we do races. You have to have faith in race day magic.
Believe me, it will happen.
- Have fun!
If you are under-trained for race, the race will most likely feel tough but it can still be enjoyable.
Often, the greatest joy comes from the toughest challenges.
As they say: “Pain is temporary. Pride lasts forever”
I say “GO FOR IT!”
** None of the above applies to racing with a serious injury or against Doctor’s orders!!!
Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with these ladies.
Happy Running! Have you run races under-trained? If so, how did the race turn out? Any other advice to add? Please share.