Just four days to go, and I’ll run a half-marathon (that’s 21 km for those unfamiliar with running lingo) in the Run United 1 (RU1) race. I can’t believe it’s going to be my seventh eighth 21k! Have I been running that long? (Read: Am I that old?)
Because I’ve done it so often, I notice that I go through practically the same routine just days before a race. This routine almost always involves much worrying and anxiety (and just recently, a trip to the grocery store to get giant bottles of Gatorade). Sound terrible? Well, it may, but I now know from my own and other runners’ experience that it’s entirely normal to be anxious before an impending race. If you’re not anxious, it could mean you don’t care about the race, and that’s not a good thing.
I get pre-race jitters because something might go wrong during the race. Anything could happen, like cramping, knee problems, dehydration, diarrhea (!), wardrobe malfunction, a car hitting you, and so on. (Need I mention that death is also a possibility? But that’s just too dreary to dwell on.)
I’ve had cramping problems in previous races, and I know it can be so bad that you’ll have no choice but to stop, stretch, walk limping, and hopefully get to jog later when the cramps wear off. But by then, you’ll be saying goodbye to all hopes of setting a new PR. Just the same, you can still enjoy the race, and be proud of earning another 21k finisher’s medal. Oh yes.
To prevent cramps, what I do now is wear compression sleeves on my shins (where the cramps occur), guzzle about two liters of Gatorade one day before the race, and stay hydrated and full of electrolytes during the race itself. It also helps to train sufficiently for the race. So far, I’ve seen that this formula really works, at least for me.
What now worries me is that, this time around, I lack an important element in my fool-proof formula: sufficient preparation. I’m woefully undertrained for RU1. According to online resources, you should do at least 16-18k in your training runs prior to a half-mary. My longest training run has been only 13k (see picture), and I did it just yesterday, less than a week before race day. Uh-oh.
Ideally, in the week just prior to a race, you should be tapering off. That means you should be more relaxed, running infrequently and shorter distances, so that you’ll conserve your energy for the big day. Clearly, I’m not doing this.
I’ve had knee issues recently, which prevented me from running a 21k in the much-awaited Condura Skyway race. What a bummer that was. Afterwards, I could only train with great restraint, mindful of not hurting my knee again and, God forbid, having to miss out on this Run United race as well.
Oh well. I have never felt totally prepared for any race anyway, so I’ll just try to have an enjoyable, albeit slow, race on Sunday. I won’t be targetting a new PR at all. As I’ll be running with a newly-recovered right knee, I’ll be doing a slow sweet 21k.
Good luck to me and to everyone doing the RU1. See you at the Finish Line! 🙂