[Note: This post originally appeared on LovingTheRun.com, where I was a guest-blogger.]
I have never considered moving down a race level. Ever. But I must be growing as an athlete, because I recently did just that.
To be clear: It was not easy.
I signed up for the Illinois Half Marathon a couple of months ago, when I was in excellent half mary shape. I had just finished a half in January, and had another in February. I was rearin’ to go, so when I saw that the field for the IHM was still open, I signed up without giving it a second thought.
Then I got sick. And stayed sick. FOR THREE WEEKS.
My fitness level tanked and I was quite disheartened. I still thought that if I put in the work I had the ability to run the 13.1-mile distance at the end of April.
But I struggled to regain my fitness, and as I was starting to feel better, I wasn’t able to log nearly as many miles as I had only one month previously. Now, each of my runs had turn into torture sessions; my legs were heavy and my lungs hurt.
But one day, after logging a painful five-mile run, I had an epiphany: “What if I didn’t run the half?” I thought to myself. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
The answer? Nothing. Moving down a race would do me absolutely no damage. But I wasn’t ready to admit that out loud yet.
Instead, I reached out to my good friend and my Austin Half running buddy Kristel. Here’s our message exchange:
Me: I am signed up to run the Illinois Half Marathon on April 30. I haven’t run more than 6 miles at once since our half in February. I do work out six days a week, though, doing cycling, running and swimming. Do I still run the half, or do I switch to the 10K???
Kristel: I think you’d be perfectly okay with running the half at the end of the month if:
- You try and fit in some mileage on these next three (two?) weekends – like a 9 miles and 10 if you can, just to remind your feet and body of what it’s like.
- Are okay with running a race that might not be your best.
- Are okay with it possibly hurting for a few days after.
- Feel good (i.e., no foot pain).
… there’s no shame in going down to the 10K; you’ve been working hard.
Me: You’ve just regurgitated everything that’s already in my head… Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re on the right train of thought, you know? I’m much better at advising others than myself…
And with that, I advise you all to love yourselves and your goals more than any one run.
My A race this year is a the Racine Ironman 70.3 in July. Pushing myself to do the Illinois Half just because I signed up for it — at the risk of screwing up my 70.3 training — is not worth it. So I filled out the paperwork, paid my $10 and switched to the 10K.
And, if I weren’t training for the IM event, I’d probably also say that it’s not worth sacrificing my health over either. I spent most of last year hurt. Never again….