You trained and prepped and waited. Hell you even survived taper week. You put in 9 months of sweat equity, stepped to the start line and the sun, the moon and the stars just didn’t align. Now what?? Do you finish? Do you quit? Cry, laugh, swear, or all of the aforementioned?
We can prepare you to start the race, we can teach you strategies to mitigate changing circumstances during a race, we can even help you set up a pacing plan, but we can’t run the race for you. Only you know what’s happening step by step, mile by mile. You are in the drivers seat watching the control panel, constantly running systems checks… heart rate, pace, energy level, stomach, hydration, altitude. Houston we have a problem….
So you’ve hit a wall, run up against a challenge. You can’t quite finger it but your training kicks in you don’t think you just seamlessly adjust. Systems check… the warning sirens have quieted. Perhaps you changed your stride, adjusted your pace, ingested more calories, or even pulled over for a pit stop. One more mile, two more miles… but your body just isn’t right. You know what an off training day feels like. You can tell good pain from bad pain (I know right who makes that statement right?). You know this isn’t the best of the worst. You are going to have to make a call. Do you keep going and hope its nothing or do you trust your gut and start planning your exit?
No time for emotions now that comes later…you start asking the hard questions? What does it mean to me to finish? What does it mean to my body? Am I going to cause lasting physical damage? What’s my end goal? Why did I show up today in the first place?
Competition is a milestone on the training timeline it is never the end all to be all. All the work that went into preparing for the event is the real medal. Sure it feels good to cross the finish line and run home to post to your Facebook. But what does it really mean if you didn’t respect your body to get there? You only get one body that has to last you a lifetime. That means a lifetime of races, walks with the dog, bouncing your kids around and dreaming up new adventures.
So you pull up. You know you made the right choice but it doesn’t make it feel any better. You can’t help but to ask yourself again was I being weak? Did I quit for the right reason? So maybe you laugh, maybe you cry, maybe you curse the fates. But in the end trust your gut. You have just gracefully embodied the best of a mature endurance athlete. You took the long view.
So now what?
Regroup. Move for the pure freedom of it for a minute. Then you try again. So you put you first, it was hard and it left you hungry but congratulations because next time not only will you be healthy but you will come to the start with a fire in your belly you may never have known you had.
Go get it!