Friday, May 4, 2012

Is a Shorter Race Distance Better if You're Injured or Undertrained?

Whether you are a new or experienced runner there will come a time when you need to decide to still run the distance you signed up for or drop down down to a lower distance (or even drop out completely).  It may be related to not being trained well enough for the race, healing from an injury or a possibility of getting injured. There is no right or wrong answer as you consider the following:
  1. What is your goal? - If your goal has been to run a half marathon and just finish it and not run again for the next year then running that race distance may right for you.  If you have another race in 2 months that is more important to you, then don’t chance it and drop to a shorter distance or drop out completely.  
  2. Will running the race get you one step closer to your goal? If the race isn't helping you get to the goal, is it worth the stress of debating run it or don't run it?
  3. Do no harm. - Coach Dean starts off any race conversation when an injury is involved with the statement "DO NO HARM."  What are you getting out of running a race if it leaves you injured?  If you can't run for 6 weeks was it worth it to run that one race?
  4. Money- I often get frustrated with the money I lose by signing up for a race and not being able to run it due to injuries. The flip side is waiting to the last minute and paying higher race fees or not getting in because the race is sold out.  Again it comes back to your goal.  If you have a race in two months that you really want to run, the money isn't worth the potential of being injured.  
  5. What is your training level?  If you have an injury that has prevented you from training the last 6 weeks then you aren’t adequately trained.  Not being adequately trained depends on your competitive level. If your goal is to finish the race and time doesn't matter then you'll be successful with anytime you receive. If you're competitive and will not enjoy walking in or running much slower, then consider running a shorter distance.
  6. Remember you are supposed to have fun running.  If the race distance you are attempting to run worries you, then it’s no longer fun.  Drop down to a shorter distance and enjoy the run.
  7. And finally, there is always another race.  The wonderful thing about running is there is a race everywhere, every weekend and you can choose another race in a month, 2 months or 6 months.
It's not an easy decision to make but trust your gut and believe in yourself.

Happy Running!


Johann said...

Interesting that you should post this today as I have to drop my race I am signed up for this Sunday because I am sick. I have a chest cold and cough that just doesn't want to let go. I'm always signed up for many races in advance so I just move on to the next goal.

Giorgio said...

How can we, runners, think that our goal is to finish the race, considering that three or six months ago we ran at 4:30 min./km? Last week I ran a short race in tuscany as training and it was frustrating! It isn't easy!

Have a nice weekend!

Black Knight said...

To have a goal is very important and a shorter distance is always a good option.
My goal now is not to finish .... last and here it could happen if you run slower than 8'00"/ml.