A full recap of the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend is coming, including my thoughts on the 10k and half as well as some more fun Disneyland posts, but I’m fresh off the red eye back from California and I’m not quite awake enough to plot those posts out just yet.
What I can say is what I learned from this weekend and how it’s going to change things going forward.
So what did I learn?
Not training properly for a race is stupid.
So obvious, right? Everyone knows that.
But they don’t. Or, they’re like me and they don’t listen. There are threads and threads on message boards where people are asking “I haven’t run more than X miles for Y race, will I be ok?”
Inevitably, and especially on runDisney-focused boards, people start trying to make the poster feel better. “It’s just for fun, don’t worry!” “You can do it! Just walk it!” “As long as you finish, it doesn’t matter!” “Pixie dust will get you through!”
And I get what they’re trying to say because I totally let myself fall into those excuses this weekend. I told myself it didn’t matter how long it took, as long as I finished. I agreed with everyone who kept saying to me “You’ve run two marathons, a half is nothing!” I went into denial and convinced myself it was a good idea to race not once, but twice, in one weekend with minimal training since I completed the Chicago Marathon in October.
Yes, my time doesn’t technically matter. I’m not out to win my age group or anything. But you know what does matter? Listening to your body. Putting in the effort and training to ensure a safe and productive race.
I got through Saturday’s 10k with minimal pain. I definitely had some soreness in my bad knee, but I laughed it off and went out Sunday determined to give it a shot and run as if I trained.
Two miles in, my knee was killing me. Tylenol, Biofreeze, stop to stretch, walk. I repeated the cycle over three hours and 13.1 miles.
After that, I decided to walk around Disneyland Resort for hours and hours for two days and then sit on 7 hours worth of plane rides.
I worked really hard to get my knee back to a place where it was strong enough to handle running again. And then I got lazy, made excuses, didn’t train properly, didn’t recover from workouts properly, and then decided to run a 10k/13.1 challenge and now I’m paying the price. I won’t be able to run on it for a few weeks. I’ll be spending time (and money) at the chiropractor again to do physical therapy. I’ll be on the spin bike, trying to keep up my cardio without putting extra stress on my knee. I’ll be starting from scratch all over again.
I feel like one of those Rob Lowe DirecTV ads.
“Hi, I’m smart Ashley and I trained for the Chicago Marathon.” “Hi, I’m not-so-smart Ashley and ran the runDisney Rebel Challenge without training.”
Don’t be like not-so-smart me. Train. And if you aren’t trained for a race, don’t run. Walking isn’t going to solve all of your problems. Defer. Sell a bib, if you can. Pick a race later in the year. Be smart. Listen to your body. Do the work required. Races are infinitely more fun when you’re trained. No medal or t-shirt is worth damaging your body for.
So for now, I go back to the basics. Rehabbing my knee, focusing on cross-training, flexibility, and cardio. In a few weeks, I’ll start rebuilding my running base and properly training for my next half in June and keeping a consistent baseline where I CAN comfortably and safely finish a half marathon on a whim.
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t fun this weekend. I had a blast, despite the extreme pain, thanks to two great friends who stuck by me on the courses. Our times weren’t horrible. They were my worst times to date, sure, but we were never in danger of not finishing on time.
I don’t want to say I regret running the races, but I do regret not training for them and the pain I’ve caused myself.
It’s a mistake I hope to never make again.