Note: Names have been changed for my safety (although he’ll know who he is )
“I haven’t been training,” Casey says as he jogs up to cool down with me after a group interval session at our gym.
“Hmmm? What’d you mean? You’re here more than I am.”
“I haven’t been running at all.”
I glance at him and wait for the punch line. This is the guy who teases me mercilessly for not being able to figure out where my knees should be during deadlifts and thinking that my lips are a great third contact point for wallballs. He and I are barely serious about our workouts until it’s actually time to start the work.
“Well, a couple three milers here and there, but that’s it,” he reiterates.
“You worried about it?” I ask, realizing he’s being serious.
“Not really, I guess.” As we round the last corner, he picks up his pace a little bit and starts talking to the gym owner; conversation over.
I didn’t think much of it to begin with as Casey’s an in-shape guy. He crossfits five or six days a week and by his own admission, runs a few miles here and there. Surely he’ll be ok running a 187 mile relay race. Right?
My marathon coach is fond of emailing the group multiple times during the last two weeks before the race to remind us that “the hay is in the barn!” Trying to squeeze in any training runs that you missed into the last couple weeks before a race will do more harm than good.
But what if you’ve forgotten to train?
On the drive home that night from work, I kept thinking about Casey and not enough training. I thought about my own team who’ve been working around a couple of injuries and I’m coming back this year after nine months off due to having my hamstring re-attached. Will we be ready for this weekend? Am I ready for this weekend?
Like many runners, my running life has had more than one stop and restart from square one for various reasons (usually injury). One of those injurious restarts was a couple weeks after signing up for the Los Vegas marathon. My hubby and I had just bought a new washer and dryer and were moving them into the house. Getting the dryer out of the truck was a breeze. The washer unfortunately was not. I wrenched my back putting me out of running commission for at least six weeks- half my training time for the marathon. Running, biking, and swimming were all out of the question due to the nature of the injury. As soon as I was released to start walking, I did and a lot of it. I also joined Curves as it was the only exercise my physical therapist would give her blessing to. I worked my way up to walking five miles four times a week with a ten miler once a week and going to Curves four to five times a week. Finally three weeks before the marathon I was allowed to run. During those last three weeks I managed to work up to a ten miles of mostly run/little walk. Not exactly a great training regimen, especially for a marathon. My physical therapist wanted me to not run the marathon at all, but I’m stubborn. I compromised by agreeing to drop out if at any point I was uncomfortable. I’ll admit it was my slowest marathon and I walked much more than usual, but my back didn’t twinge until mile 24. Yes, I finished- upright and smiling.
I’ve worked out with Casey a couple of times since his initial revelation that he’s not trained for the relay. He’s restated his lack of training a couple times, but always ended with his lack of worry for the upcoming race. Perhaps that’s the secret to success sans training- don’t worry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be prepared for a physically taxing ordeal. Casey and his team, even as non-runners, are very fit and healthy. But as non-runners, they will have a tougher time than runners. Unless their idea of success is not tied to first place or beating the elite teams. Most runners are experienced with changing their terms of success- can’t beat the number one runner in your age group? Aim to beat your own course record. Coming back from injury? Count yourself a winner if you finish your first race without walking or finish the race season without re-occurring injury. When I recruit my relay team, I make sure to tell them we are in it for the fun of it and the experience. I know my competitive limits and I make sure to surround myself with a team who understands or at least accepts them also. We laugh and tease and joke from the start line to the finish line in our own time and terms. Our success is crossing the finish line upright and smiling (and before the finish line has been dismantled).
I hope that since you’ve signed up to run the Epic Relay you have been training, but I want to reassure you in this last week before the Oregon Epic Relay that you are ready for the relay- even if you haven’t traditionally trained. You may need to change your definition of success to fit you or your team’s training, but you are ready.
Enjoy the run my Epic friends!
Rikki, the (mostly) fearless captain of team YBNRML