When race day approaches, there are hundreds of things that can go wrong.

Competing in an event that you’re not ready to run, is never recommended, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You can feel like you haven’t logged enough miles, maybe you have a bothersome twinge, ate some bad pasta or have a head-cold. As long as you’re 100 percent positive you won’t do your body any long-term damage, the race goes on.

The reasons to run are many, and sometimes they outweigh the reasons to skip a race. Maybe you’ve already paid hefty registration fees, booked plane tickets or made a commitment to a running buddy. Whatever the reason for competing under-prepared, there are some things you can do to get through your race, and maybe even feel like it was a success.

1. Change your goals

When we race, we usually set a goal time. If you feel like there’s no way you’ll reach your goal, there’s no reason to hold onto it. Choose to focus instead on something that’s achievable but challenging. Finishing the race or making it to a certain point before walking might be a better goal this time, and revisit the time.

2. Ditch the bad attitude

Stop telling yourself how much it will hurt or how much it’s going to suck. Instead, telling yourself how much fun it will be to experience the course, how you can’t wait to see what you can do, and how you will give it your all. When you shut down the negative voices, you’re more likely to have a positive experience.

3. Smile

This goes with attitude. It might seem extremely cheesy, but I swear it works! When the going gets tough, laugh it off. Smile at people and see how many smile back. If you start hearing those negative voices again, smile and you’ll be surprised to find yourself having some fun. BONUS: you’ll look awesome in race photos.

4. Make things fun

Smiling might help you get to mile 8 of the half, but there is still another 5.1 to go, and you’re starting to fade. Figure out what it will take to make this experience fun, and don’t be cynical about it. Maybe it’s playing the alphabet game with yourself, talking to strangers or pretending you’re Wile E. Coyote. There’s bound to be something you can do to make it fun!

5. Respect your body

This is the most important point. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to take a few walking steps and assess your body. Take a mental survey of the nagging area and if nothing feels pinched and the pain subsides after a few steps, carry on. If it doesn’t feel better or if it feels worse, you may have to walk the remainder, or drop out of the race. Dropping out of one event is better than being benched for the season, or worse.

Remember, you are capable of much more than you think!


By Nichols