How to Race Without Training

To be clear, I’m not promoting running a race withOUT training but I think it truly IS a reality for those of us who love running and love living so I just gotta admit that often, life gets in the way of training and takes the front seat! Since I started racing in 2009, I commit to at least one race every month and sometimes I’m ready, sometimes I’m not. While I completely and totally respect the process and preparation that goes into the umpteen weeks of training, focus, and sacrifice towards Race Day, I often take it for granted and this year so far, I admit, I have definitely slacked off…  and guess what? I have the first half of the San Francisco Marathon, a very challenging 13.1, in 2 days.

Some people, including my coaches, husband, and non-running friends say, “You don’t have to do the race, right?  Why even put yourself through that? Just DON’T do it!” Sure that’s an option for normal people but I’m not normal and it’s not me NOT to show up. I said I would so I’m gonna and that’s just that. Stubborn runner, that’s me.

To get ready for the imminent pain and suffering that goes along with attempting to run a road race without training, I am trying my best to keep my mind right while prepping for Race Day as well as I possibly can… 

1) Be honest. Gotta keep being honest with myself in order to mentally prepare for how hard I KNOW this is going to be. 13 hilly miles may be easy for some, but for me, half marathons are not “easy” unless I’m actually trained for the sucker so I know it will be difficult, I know my endurance just isn’t there, my feet will hurt, I will walk a lot, I will feel defeated in the moment but I also know that it’s just a matter of time and will power before I cross that finish line. I’ve done over 30 half marathons before and I will do yet another come Sunday. It will be hard but it will get done.

2) Goal shift. Last year, I ran the second half of the SF Marathon just as I was getting over my 2nd injury of 2014. I wasn’t trained then either and it was actually fun up until mile 11, then I hated it. Hated everything about it. Those feelings had nothing to do with the race itself and everything to do with being under-trained, so I vowed that this year, as a 2nd year ambassador for the race, I would train my heart out and smash those hills victoriously but, yeah, well, not so much… just crossing the finish line before the three and a half hour cut off is the new goal- no smashing, just finishing. It’s still 13.1 miles no matter how it’s accomplished.

I just regret not training for it!

3) Roll, stretch, repeat. Can’t really do much in these 2 days prior to get physically ready but I can foam roll with abandon and keep stretching out all the important muscles that have gotten so tight over the last few weeks of non-running: glutes, IT bands, hamstrings, calves, upper and lower back. I use this pink Pro Tech Athletics foam roller (I call him Larry), the medium resistance SPRI band for more IT band and inner/outer thigh stretching, plus The Stick for even a deeper muscle release. Stretching not only feels really good but I want to make sure that my legs don’t feel tight or stiff when the race starts- at least that’s something!

(Here are some great articles- all running related- on foam rolling techniques, how to stretch with a resistance band, and how to use The Stick for self sports massage.)

4) Hydrate with care. All the coconut water, nuun water, and water water I can consume, I will but not too much! I want to step up my hydration just a bit in these next 48 hours to make sure I’m race ready but it’s a balance- too much H2O and I can potentially dilute too many of those much needed electrolytes and/or get all bloated! The last thing I want during the race is a crampy tummy!  Ideally, about a liter of water every few hours does me just right.

5) Rest and sleep. As an expert relaxer, I’ve been doing a fabulous job of taking it easy this summer so if I just keep that up, I’m bound to be totally rested for race day but I know better… with my mind wandering with worry and anxiousness about how the race will go, I know the eve of the race will likely be sleepless so I have to make sure tonight’s sleep, the 2 days prior, is a restful and peaceful 8 hours. Even when I AM trained, I always get pre-race jitters so a nap here and there will really help too!

6) Music. And when the run turns to walk then turns to crawl, I turn to my tunes. Just this morning I came across 3 different articles with some fabulous new workout playlists but then my computer crashed so that was that!  In addition to playlist blog posts, I also rely on Shazam– any time I hear a song on the TV or radio that makes me feel like running, I Shazam it and the app saves my songs until I am ready to make a new playlist, like today!  I also use the fabulous site to see what’s new (by genre and/or BPM) and to download a nice, long run mix that keep me entertained for miles.  (You can get the latest RockMyRun #RunChat mix for free with the code RC2015, song highlights include “Uptown Funk,” “I Lived” and “All These Things I’ve Done.”)

7) Have fun! About mile 11 on Sunday I highly doubt there will be any having of any kind of fun but I do these races because I enjoy them, trained or not. I am proud to be an SF Marathon ambassador and I am glad to have the ability to get out there and accomplish another 13.1 no matter what may come.  I am looking forward to hanging with my fellow ambassadors at the expo tomorrow and I can’t wait to run over the awesome Golden Gate Bridge again, earning that medal and all the celebrating afterwards.

Often, the biggest joy comes from the toughest challenges and I’m ready to meet that challenge no matter what may come!  Pain temporary, pride forever and I am never giving up- HERE WE GOOOOOO!!!

Wish me luck! I need it!!!

9 thoughts on “How to Race Without Training

  1. Josh

    I’ve always like the motivational posters you include in your blog posts, and I REALLY like this one (Don’t be upset…). It’s great both for motivation and for keeping a positive mindset when scheduling gets away from me. Good find!

    1. Laura Post author

      Thank you! Yes, it’s a good one and will hopefully help remind me NOT to be disappointed with tomorrow’s outcome!

  2. maisymay

    Great post. Thanks to the promo you posted, I will be doing the 5k on Sunday. Hope you have a good run.

    1. Laura Post author

      You too!!! The SFM 5K was the very first 5K (in 2009) I ran the *entire* way! Have a great time! 🙂

    1. Laura Post author

      Hahahaha- yeah, that’s for sure! This isn’t the first time I’ve been ill prepared and it is The Worst but, just as you say, easy and fun will guide me through! I hope!!! 😉

  3. Jennette

    We did it Lady!! It’s not the time that matters or how you finish… it’s the effort and determination that helped you cross the line. =) *hugs* On to the next race/adventure….

  4. stephanieconsiglio

    I really enjoyed this posting because I feel sooooooo guilty when I happen to take 3-4 days off in a row. “I’m like oh my gosh I’m a horrible runner, maybe I’m not a runner.” but sometimes things just happen and those days go by. I’m trying to get involved in groups so I have practice meetups I won’t miss. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only runner this happens to every once in awhile.


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