Leading up to the National Half Marathon a year and a half ago, I followed my training schedule to the letter, carefully monitored my diet and treated my long runs like important dates, working the rest of my schedule around them rather than the other way around. I even nixed the idea of a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, thanks to its timing the week before the race.
There are races like that one. Then, there are the races that creep up on you. Like forgotten birthdays, you know when they are, and you know they’re coming—you’re just a little surprised when they actually get here. Like Ragnar D.C. on Sept. 24-25, which I signed up for with my running buddies months ago. My teammates took care of purchasing gear for and divvying up the legs of the 200-mile relay while I was on vacation, making it easy for me to stay in denial about it until, like, now.
We each run three legs of the 200-mile, overnight relay, with each leg ranging from three to eight miles. This means that, whether I feel motivated or not, I’ve got to get my butt out for at least one more 10-miler before the race. Ideally, I’ll also work in a couple hill workouts to prepare for the relay’s varied terrain.
Just writing that makes me groan a little. But deep down, I’m grateful to have a reason to challenge myself in my workouts for the next two weeks. It’s not that I’m cramming, per se—I did run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half-Marathon on Sept. 5. It’s just that I haven’t been taking my training as seriously as I probably should be.
I know I’m not the only runner to have a race creep up on them. Runner’s World even had a feature recently offering training tips for going from maintenance training to race-ready shape safely.
What’s your strategy when a race creeps up on you? Also, if you’ve run a Ragnar relay: Any tips for what to bring, do, eat, wear, etc.?