Advice for the undertrained?
May 2, 2012 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Am I going to badly regret running a half-marathon this weekend with minimal training?

I signed up for the Toronto half-marathon which is happening May 6. Of course, at the time, I had good intentions of rigourously training and beating my pathetic personal best of 2:30.

Unfortunately, life got in the way and I trained half-heartedly for a few months and not at all in the last month. I think the longest run I did was about 10 or 12 kms, which I ran at about a 7 minute kilometre.

Nevertheless, I'm still thinking about showing up Sunday. Is this a huge mistake? I don't intend to run my ass off, and I realize I will have probably an even slower time than last fall. But am I actually going to hurt myself by running twice as far as I have in recent months? If I keep it slow and stop if something hurts, will I be ok? I'm loath to give up the overpriced entry fee, and I figure that getting some decent exercise this weekend couldn't hurt.

If I do pull/tweak/sprain something midway through, what is the protocol for leaving a race when you have a toe clip?
posted by Pomo to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We had a thread about this. See especially this comment, which I think was even sidebarred.
posted by axiom at 3:53 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: It is not a huge mistake if you've done half marathons before. Unless you have an existing injury that could be aggravated, you won't injure yourself. I've done this on more than one occasion and been fine (better than fine, actually; I hit a personal best after taking about 3 weeks off). Go on one or two short runs (5k or so) before the race if you can just to get your body used to the motion of running after all this time off.

Remember to warm up and stretch our your arms and legs a bit before you start. Take it really easy at the beginning of the race and add speed as you get more comfortable and fall into the rhythm of running.

I'm pretty sure the toe clip is just there so you know your time. You can throw it away if you have to leave. Contact the race organizers in case you think they might want it back.
posted by rhythm and booze at 3:54 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: In my completely anecdotal opinion, you're unlikely to pull/tweak/sprain at this distance unless you get fatigued and trip on a pothole or something - which can certainly happen when you're tired and dragging your feet.

The chip is disposable so if you decide to throw in the towel you just have to walk away and get a pint. There will be enough runners in town that you won't look weird drinking a beer at the bar in your running clothes.
posted by ftm at 3:55 PM on May 2, 2012

Best answer: If you are injury free before the race, then I recommend doing it. At least you can wear the race t-shirt with pride.

That being said, you will have to scale back the pace (slower than the pace you run during your 10km runs) or try 10 and 1s (run/jog 10 minutes, walk 1 minute). The important thing is to listen to your body. Start out slow and if you have gas in the tank for the last 3-5km, then run hard. If not, just walk to the finish.

Remember to stretch out well immediately afterwards!
posted by ilovelucce at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, axiom, but there are significant differences between a half and full marathon. I would never in a million years attempt a full marathon without training (or even with, to be honest).

Yes, I'm injury-free to date. I was debating doing one more long run this week but maybe it's too close to Sunday.

Thanks for the answers and I look forward to more...
posted by Pomo at 4:01 PM on May 2, 2012

I was forced to run/walk the last 6 km in my first ever half due to foot pain and it was pretty torturous, but I finished, and was fine a few days later. This might have been undertraining, maybe poor technique, or maybe I was still not quite over a cold, who knows. I had training runs around 17km that had felt way better than the actual race. But in any case it sounds like you are a more experienced runner than I was. I don't regret it at all and I only wanted to die for a very small amount of time.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:06 PM on May 2, 2012

Anyone with the aerobic capacity and running form to complete a 10k without crying has it in them to complete a half-marathon - perhaps not in competitive time, but most certainly ahead of the charity runners dressed as horses and superheroes.

Run some short, easy distances, and rest up in the 48-72 hours before. On the day, deviate as little as possible from your regular eating habits and preparations, and treat it just like any other run. Expect an extra blister or two.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2012

I've done this, for my first ever half. I discovered I had something wrong with my knee that I should have found out through training, but far more importantly I found that shorts/etc that are perfectly comfortable for five miles are not ok for 13. If you've run one before you probably have that stuff mostly figured out, but you haven't had the chance this time to build up any slight calluses/etc, so it might still be an issue.

You could probably safely do a 10k run tomorrow - do it in your race clothes, and pay close attention to anywhere that is getting even slightly chafed and pre-emptively protect it for the race.
posted by jacalata at 4:31 PM on May 2, 2012

I did this last year and, this Sunday, I'll do it again. It's not too bad if you're in okay shape. Walk when you want to. Run when you want to. Treat the gatorade and water stations as you do during smaller races. Don't try anything fancy and you should be fine - but if something starts to hurt, stop.
posted by punchtothehead at 4:44 PM on May 2, 2012

You may regret it. I've been a runner since middle school but after a couple years of not running more than 3 miles twice a week, I ran a half marathon. Though I ran a 2:20, I gained a few injuries that have made running not much fun anymore, even now three years later.
posted by slidell at 5:33 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should be okay, though your time will reflect your lack of preparation. More important than anything is just to listen to your body. If it's telling you to slow it down, slow it down. If it tells you before the 10km mark that you're done for the day, hang it up.
posted by Kevtaro at 5:56 PM on May 2, 2012

Do it! Like You said, getting some exercise this weekend isn't a bad thing. Just don't push yourself too hard, listen to your body if things start hurting more than what seems normal.
posted by at 5:59 PM on May 2, 2012

You most likely won't die doing this, although you may wish you had in the couple of days following the event. Take it very slow at the start - run as slow as you can, because you can always speed up later.

The advice about a trial of race gear from jacalata is very good - it will also give you a chance to do some pacing and work out what speed you feel you can sustain.

Even if you don't make it, you can wear the shirt with pride. I hate it when events give out the shirts before the race, because I'm sure lots of people (and I know a couple) enter just to get the shirt and never even attempt to run.

Check with the event rules about the chip - some events have disposable chips, some don't and you may have to return it either at the finish or by posting it in.
posted by dg at 9:06 PM on May 2, 2012

A half marathon is about twice as long as a 10-12k run. You may have to drop to a walk, but as long as you do not try to ignore joint pain you'll probably be fine.
posted by kavasa at 11:02 PM on May 2, 2012

dg is right - check those race rules regarding the chip. One race I did had some extreme penalty for not turning it in - like $30 or something.
posted by OHSnap at 12:09 AM on May 3, 2012

You'll be fine. I ran one in the fall having completed 90% of the Hal Higdon plan and got a random asthma attack halfway though. The second half was slow and miserable but I survived.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:25 AM on May 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice! Did it in 2:37 (yuck) but no injuries.
posted by Pomo at 5:09 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

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