River Lightning

Running a Race that You Know Will be Terrible

We runners seem to have an interesting problem with letting go. I’m in a lot of online running groups and there are so many times when you see a post that goes something like this:

raining frogs“Hey everybody. So here’s the deal. I was training for a half marathon, but then a dragon ate my leg and I was locked up abroad for a month so I couldn’t do my long runs. I currently have bronchitis. Do you think I could still do the race at a 9 minute pace? Also the race is this weekend and the weather calls for thundersnow and giant frogs raining from the sky. Advice?”

Sane people would be like, “Do not try to do this race. You only have one leg and you’re going to feel terrible, and you’ll probably step on a frog or get hit by lightning.” Runners, on the other hand, will be like, “YOU GOT THIS!” “You’ve done a half before. It’s so mental. If you think you can do it, you’ll get there! Go for it!”

I’m not here to say you can’t do it—you can totally do it! But you might want to prepare for it to be terrible. Here’s why: if you prepare for it to be really awful, and it is, but you finish, then you’re a boss. If you prepare for it to be terrible, but it isn’t that bad, it’s a total win!

I have a lot of experience with terrible races. There was ice on the course when I ran my first 5k. I had a terrible head cold and didn’t barely sleep the night before my first half marathon (which was on a stupidly hot day). And my first full marathon poured rain.

The thing is, I was totally prepared for them to suck! I would go, “Welp, Drenergy, at least every [5k or half or full] is going to seem easy compared to this one!” And I was right.

So if you are going to run a race and think it’s going to be terrible, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Just be prepared for the awfulness and show up. Maybe you can eek out a good time. Hey, if I can run a marathon in the rain and use some jazz hands to make miles 18–25 better, you can too.

Hey, if I can run a marathon in the rain and use some jazz hands to make miles 18–25 better, you can too.