The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race: Lesson 2

The Top 5 Things Not To Do In a Running Race
The Tales and Lamentations of the Ill-Prepared Runner

Lesson 2 – Not Training At All

October 16, 2011, Toronto half-marathon, the smell of victory in the air. As I stood in the cluster of runners at the start line, I was simply stoked to get going. It was at this moment that I realized a very important factor in the immediate outcome of this race. The neural pathways in my brain lit up and I thought to myself, “Hey Chad, you haven’t trained for this race at all? Have you?” Oh dear…this isn’t going to be good.

Alright, let me back up. I am a frugal person and the thought of saving money thoroughly excites me. I truly believe that there will be a Value Village just inside the pearly, golden, gates of Heaven. This said, I made sure that I purchased the early bird special for the 2011 Toronto half-marathon. At that time, I was in the process of moving from Alberta to Ontario, so training time got replaced with high levels of box-filling and joyous days of painting a house. After I moved, I felt displaced and out of my element. I did not run because I simply did not have the motivation to train. One week before the race, I woke up in a state of alarmed panic as one sentence flowed through my head: “RACE DAY A-COMETH BUD AND YOU HAVEN’T DONE A THING!” I jumped out of bed and did push-ups until I was red in the face. Unfortunately, 27 and a half push-ups doesn’t replace 4 months of training. Seven days later, I woke up, laced up, and went and ran a half marathon completely cold.

Alright, back to October 16th. The gun went off and to my surprise I felt like a million bucks, possibly even 2.87 Million. I ran at a very acceptable pace, and did not start too fast (Lesson 1). I didn’t take too many walking breaks and had my breathing under control. I didn’t understand it! 5k, 12k, 15k – I was invincible! It was at 18k that my thoughts began to change. I started slowing down and felt a peculiar sensation in my legs. However, I pushed through the last 3km and victoriously raised my hands in triumph at the finish line. “YES! I beat the system! I didn’t have to train for a race! Marathons are easy!” Correction Chad, you are currently crossing the finish line with a lower body injury fit for a hospital waiting room. I received my participation medal and began walking down the street to head on home. It was at this moment that I realized there was something wrong. I looked like a new-born baby giraffe who didn’t know how to use his legs. Wobbling about, I sat on a bench and wanted to scream “SERENITY NOW!”

I didn’t train for my half marathon and I put a major tear in every single one of my leg muscles. I also developed a sciatic nerve injury that disallowed me from running for nearly two years. This may sound ridiculous, but always remember to train for your races and train properly! John Stanton’s book, Running, has many training schedules and tips to ensure your long-term success.

Train for your races, train properly, train hard. Your body is incredible, but to be successful in races, you need to help it out with some preparation. Running is beautiful; don’t make a mess of the Mona Lisa.

Stay tuned next week for Lesson 3 – Hitting The Wall(s)

Read Lesson 1 – Starting Too Fast

Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University