Friday, April 25, 2014

Undertrained marathon tips

So, I’m running a marathon this weekend.  Oops.

To say that I am a little undertrained for this marathon would be sort of like saying that the troops at the Alamo were a “little bit” overmatched.  Although, similar to the Alamo, there will be yelling, pain, and maybe a little bit of poop in paints.  But alas, there will be no folksy songs or battle cries for me…. This shit is going to hurt.

Coming to terms with being under trained for yet another marathon (Boston, New York being the last two) is an interesting process.  Of course, there are lots of emergency EPO doping “should haves” and “would haves”, but the reality is that I’m not going to have my best day possible. Frankly, that is just fine. I’ll finish the race, and the decisions that I made to not go all out with training were the right ones.  I do have a pretty solid plan for getting back on track…. So I’m going to treat this one a bit like a long run to get me back into the flow.

Of course, the introspective person in me (he normally comes out after 3 glasses of wine, quickly replaced by the “amazing joke teller / singer” in me after 4 glasses) wonders how many sub-par races I can have in a row before sub par is actually par?  If orange is the new black, maybe 3:20 is the new 3:00?

Never the less, here are a few tips if you find yourself in a similar situation of being tragically undertrained but are still stupid enough stubborn enough to continue with the race:

Set a good Pace: Yes, I know this one is a no brainer. Yes, I know that it is often the hardest. Yes, I know that you will probably ignore this tip anyway.  You see, the issue with being under trained is that you ARE a LITTLE trained.  So, you can run half the distance at your old goal pace no problem at all. Hell, it might even feel good!! But, the weight of the miles and speed will catch up with you like taco bell during an all day conference call.  (In both cases, shit is going to hit the fan.) My advice is to start out at long run pace and assess every quarter of the race distance - or, start at the next race pace up. E.g., running a 10k? start at half marathon pace.  For the marathon, I’ll do a little self check every time I eat a gel or every 6 miles…. still feeling good? Maybe think about picking it up. Either way, if you run your old goal pace before half way, you’re asking for the walk of shame.

Honesty: Sure it is, Mr Clinton... Sure it is.

Be honest with yourself: If lately your idea of marathon training is watching the entire 2nd season of House of Cards, then you had best adjust your goals.  Telling yourself that you're not in PR shape is one of the most important steps to following all of the others.  What is done (or probably not done) is in the past.

Have a plan: Just because you’re not running all out, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a plan. You don’t have to have mile by mile splits, but running by feel will be hard with inconsistent training. With consistency and regularity comes familiarity – and you’re not really familiar with what “hard” should feel like and you certainly don't know what your specific goal pace feels like.  Here is when a bit of race simulation during a mid week run helps.  If you are struggling at your goal pace after 30 min, it shouldn't be your goal pace.

I am getting so much mileage out of this pic...
Tell everyone that your relatively slow time was because of how under trained you are:  Let’s face it, your ego is fragile enough the way it is. Not only should you be telling everyone at the starting line that you’re ”going to easy run this one” you should most certainly post a blog post about it as well.

Have fun: Kidding aside, races where you are unprepared really are the best times to have some fun.  You can ham it up with all of the people who are serious, wear a stupid hat, or maybe even find a random stranger and help them to a PR.

So, whether I follow those tips or not, I keep reminding myself that there WILL be other races…. But I had better get my butt in gear and log some miles!  There are only so many of these “woe is me, I’m under trained” blog posts I can write!

Any other tips for anyone that finds this post via the google machine??  I mean, you could just train, but then you wouldn't get to have amazing race pictures like this!!!


Mark Matthews said...

Undertrained and injured for NYCM, I made sure to piss early and often, (forced walking breaks) slap hands of spectators, and go so slow the first half that I got to speed up the second half and thoroughly enjoy a negative split marathon while running my slowest time ever. We pay attention to our times, others pay it little mind.

One Crazy Penguin said...

I ran one marathon SEVERELY under trained. Never again. So much pain afterwards!

Julie D said...

Well darn, I'm pretty much in the same position this weekend. I'm planning on phoning it in, though, so long as I make the cut-off time, right??

Running In Boise said...

My half marathon last weekend left me feeling like my leggies were beaten with baseball bats for a couple days after. 8+ mile uphill into the wind wasn't pretty, but not my slowest at this course. But I know that I need to log the miles or stay with 5K's :-)

Kate Geisen said...

Your "how many subpar races can I have in a row before sub par is actually par" question is one that regularly haunts me. Well, I guess more it's the question of, if I can gut out things that I'm not trained for, how well could I do if I actually trained? But whatever, reality is reality.

Good tips. I especially like the "have fun" one. Probably my most fun race was one that I ran a week after a tough trail 30K. I went into it with zero expectations except for having a blast with the slower friend I was running with.

Teresa Millstone said...

This has got me thinking. I'm supposed to run a full next weekend, and was thinking about dropping to the half, I even went as far as emailing the race thinking I was in the clear for the half, I got a response saying just let them know at packet pickup and they will change it then. So now I have another week to ponder on what to do.

Jamoosh said...

I dare you to run a four hour marathon. If you do, you won't hurt. I have seen your mileage and you are not as under trained as you think. The problem stems from the nagging feeling of being "too" slow relative to what you would normally do. It's all psychological.

Running Through Phoenix said...

Jamoosh is right, you're gay.

rachrunshermouth said...

This is exactly me going into my half at the end of May. With recent injuries, I'll be lucky if I can get one ten-miler in before race day. So, I will just try to have fun. :) Good luck to you this weekend!