Thoughts on the Run: Are you up for it?
“Hey Shearer, we need a fourth for our distance medley relay. You up for it?”
“Uh, no, no I am not. I haven’t raced in 8 months; I’m just coming off a minor knee surgery. My training has been somewhat off lately. And 1200 meters? Are you nuts?”
The problem with that exchange was that only the first sentence was stated out loud. The rest was the conversation in my head. What actually came out was, “Yeah, I’m up for it.”
I’m here to state, for the record, that we runners have a problem. “No” is typically not in our vocabulary. That is, unless the question is, “Are you too injured to run?” Then “no” is usually the response. We either say, “No, I am not too injured to run” or we say nothing and just run.
As we all slowly emerge from our pandemic dens, two things are fairly certain. First, most runners probably by this time have one heck of a base, and second, when asked, prompted or otherwise pointed in the right direction, we are going to race, whether we are really ready or not. Let the madness ensue!
There is a huge amount of pent-up desire to fly the den and shop, vacation, mingle, dine, rock out and race. As with anything in life, always proceed with caution. As for the racing thing, that too should be approached with caution. No matter your point of view, there are others who hold to the exact opposite opinion. Know your audience…
MORE ON RUNNING:Thoughts on the Run: Smelling the pollen
Anyway, it has fast become racing season just about everywhere. From the big four local race production companies, I counted 24 live race events in just Delaware for the month of June. A few still have some covid protocols attached to them (maximum number of race participants, etc.) but as it appears, the racing scene is getting back to normal(ish).
But here’s the question for anyone from the weekend race warrior to the seasoned 5k speedster: Are you up for it?
The exchange from above did actually happen. I did actually say yes. I did have actually 16 days to get my speed legs under me. And I did actually race (two races in one day). And to be honest, it was DAYS until I recovered. I used muscles and energy systems that had laid dormant for a loooooong time… like well over a year long time. And there is the warning. As I tell all my athletes, just because you can or think you can doesn’t mean you should.
As you emerge from your own private pandemic den (IF you are emerging), take an honest snapshot of what you have done over the past 15 months, how you have physically and mentally trained, and what you hope to accomplish. Goal setting 101! Spend some time properly preparing yourself for those goals, too. The rush to “get back out there” may end up curtailing your summer if you are not ready.
I’m excited about the prospect of racing more this year. As a “less-young” athlete, I often see the calendar as an enemy to my ability. So any passage of time, be it injury, recovery or pandemic, puts me even further away from that starting line and elusive finish line. But I also realize I can’t make it all up in short order. Like marathon training, it takes preparation. Lots and lots of preparation.
So don’t hesitate to say, “No, I’m not ready,” when your racing buddies come calling if you truly aren’t ready. If they were honest with themselves, about half of them probably aren’t ready either. And that’s okay. We will be soon enough.
I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails (and race courses)…
Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.