I always get super nervous before a race. I wake up race morning and think, “Ohhhhh, why did I sign up for this race?” and, “Am I ready to suffer?”. Because when you race, you run fast… And when you run fast, you inevitably suffer a little bit (or a lot). I woke this morning with those thoughts exactly and my stomach flip flopped a million times over as I prepared to run the Fall Classic 10km race up at UBC.
Now, training increases your capacity to suffer. Of course training also increases your lactate threshold, and therefore your physiological ability to maintain a certain pace for a certain time. Training is paramount in ensuring you run a “good” race.
So what happens when you don’t get your training in exactly as you should have? What if you missed a few key workouts? What if your mileage wasn’t quite up to where you figured it should be at?
Or, what if you did push yourself, come hell or high water, through all your training exactly as you were “supposed” to?
Either way, I have learned it is what it is. It happens that I hit a wall in my training two weeks ago. I missed two key workouts. My weekly mileage dipped. I found myself in a rut. Thankfully, I finally climbed out of the rut on Wednesday, just in time to race. But to race well?
Funny thing is that even when I don’t train exactly as I know I need to, I still want the same results I was originally shooting for. And if I actually did get all my training in? Well, in that case I’d historically be more like if I didn’t hit my goal I just might throw in the towel on running altogether.
But here’s what I’ve learned (still learning?). No matter what my training was leading up to the race… No matter what happens out on the race course… No matter what my time is when I cross the finish line… Enjoy it. It is what it is.
Smile and laugh. Share the experience of suffering through yet another race with those around you, but do it with joyful camaraderie. Congratulate each other upon finishing and most importantly, especially if you didn’t hit your goal, accept the congrats of others with grace. Never beat yourself up. Don’t dwell on your mistakes or misfortunes but savour the memories and experience of yet another achievement. And if there are lessons to be taken away with you, learn them well. Make note of them for next time. We all know you did your best out there, because we did too. We runners… we run and we race because we are driven. But if we can’t enjoy the experience of running and racing even when we don’t hit our goals, we’ll drive ourselves into the ground.
I did not hit my goal today (I wanted a PB of course). Neither did I manage to hit my second goal (beat my Sun Run 2012 10km time). Not even my third goal became reality (a negative split). But my fourth goal was to ensure I did the best that I could do out there and to enjoy the experience. I can honestly say that this I did do… And it really felt good.
Next time I’ll try my gloves on before I leave the house in order to ensure I’m not stuck two left handed gloves. I’ll also remember to check the course map and elevation in advance so as to have a better idea of whether or not a negative split is even a possibility (a course that is mostly downhill for the first half and then mostly uphill for the second half doesn’t lend well to a negative split). I’ll ensure the batteries are charged for our ‘race’ camera we don’t worry about bag-checking. And keep a better eye on the time to ensure we don’t get a parking ticket. Lessons learned.
But one thing I’ll do the same next time is to give it all I’ve got while remembering to enjoy the experience of racing just as much as I did today. Maybe more, considering my next race is in California…