Choosing Not to Race

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I signed up to run the Athleta Iron Girl Half Marathon this Sunday. I signed up right around the time I ran my first half marathon and looked forward to tackling a tough course and hopefully setting a new PR.

Fast forward two and a half months.

Here I am, the Friday before the race. And I’ve had to make a tough decision.

I won’t be racing on Sunday.

I know this may not be the most popular or inspiring decision, but it’s the right decision for me. Why?

Because I am seriously undertrained for this race.

I’ve mentioned before that my long runs haven’t been so long lately. I haven’t stuck to a training plan. Unlike training for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon, where my discipline would not have been better, I have struggled to stay focused on a plan. So much so that my longest run in the past two months is 6.5 miles – once. I’ve been running a maximum of two days a week for the past few weeks – and averaging only about 6-8 miles total per week. That is clearly not enough.

Yes, I know I could┬ástill do the race. And trust me, I’ve really thought about it.

But when I got really honest with myself, I had to ask why I would be running the race. And to be quite honest? It would be simply to please all of you, my readers. It would be to save face – it would not be because it was a smart decision.

Because I really don’t think it would be.

I think back over my two half marathons and they took every ounce of my being to complete. I crossed the finish line of both of them with my hips extremely tight and sore. I can’t even imagine how sore I would feel crossing the finish line of a tough, bridge-filled course without enough training.

I simply cannot imagine a scenario where it would end well. Where it would end without me being injured.

I know some will say, “Just walk it!” But do you have any idea how hard it is to walk 13.1 miles? In some ways, walking that far seems even more daunting than running it. Walking uses different muscles and different movements.

No, I think it’s best to sit this one out. And instead of focusing on what I’m missing, focus instead on what I’m gaining. I’m gaining a fresh start on “getting my awesomeness back” – without the wear and tear of a race my body isn’t ready to run.

I know it may not be the most popular decision, but it’s the right decision for me. I’m at peace with it.

But I am going to be really jealous of everyone taking this sweet medal home on Sunday.

Best of luck to all my friends running the Iron Girl – you are going to rock it!

Have you ever decided to not run a race because you were undertrained?

36 Comments

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36 Responses to Choosing Not to Race

  1. Smart decision, Callie, I know it was a tough one for you.
    I had to make a similar choice last December based on undertraining and injury- it’s sad to have to admit that you’re not in the best shape to do it.
    BUT. I have no doubt that it’ll serve as a motivator for you to keep at it for future races :)

    Happy running!

  2. Oh I agree – walking that far would be worse than running it! I think you made the right choice. For starters, you don’t want to end up hurt from pushing too hard. I was pretty stupid and ran my last half (because I wanted to race with hubby which we’d never done) after not running for 6 wks because of injuries. Not ideal. So yes, you could finish, but at what cost? I think if it was a race that had some very special, important meaning, that might be different. And….I’m rambling….sorry.

  3. Very good decision. I’ve done the same many times. That’s why I’ve learned to wait as long as possible before registering for races. While the summer in Florida is a difficult time to get your running awesomeness back, I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it happen!

  4. Alison

    We tens to forget sometimes these races ate supposed to be fun. You absolutely made the right decision for you.
    I backed out of a race once because I realized the organizers did not have it together. I would have had to get the race 2+ hours prior and having done numerous races in my area (Washington DC) I knew this should not be the case. Race day I saw numerous posts on the organizers Facebook wall and twitter account. Many participants could not even get to the start line and start was delayed quite a bit. I’m glad I sat that one out!

  5. It’s a tough choice but you know what’s best for you! I decided to defer my registration for my very first triathlon a few years ago and, as hard as it was at the time, it made me love the sport that much more.

    I know you’ll be back and better than ever at your next race!

  6. THIS is more inspiring than you realize – that you are sticking up for what you know is best for YOU. Love it!

  7. I’m proud of you for making this decision! It’s better to not risk an injury than to run just because you paid for it or want a pretty medal :)

    I’ve had some DNS (did not start) before, but it’s been because I didn’t feel like battling the clusterfuck that is D.C. races or had the stomach flu or something. Feeling trained is usually something I have a handle on, probably because I don’t have a full time job too :)

  8. It is always had, but you made the right decision. I was originally going to run the WDW marathon in 2009. It would have been my first long distance race. The fall before the race I started training, got married and had a whole bunch of other things happen. I ended up being severely under trained and injured (not from running) a week before the race and didn’t run it. At that point, I felt like I was giving up a lot, but looking back, especially after completing the marathon this winter, it was the right decision.

    There will be other races and you will enjoy them more when you feel prepared. Have a wonderful weekend and don’t stress about not racing.

  9. Anna S.

    I was seriously undertrained for a half once, and I still ran it because it was the first rock n roll race in my college town. I finished, but it wasn’t pretty. No injuries, but I really should not have run.

    I think you made the right decision! Thanks for blogging about it as well!

  10. Sorry to hear we won’t see you on Sunday, but it sounds like it was the right decision for you. A tough decision to make for sure. And yeah, I can’t imagine having to walk 13.1 (and in the downpour we will most likely experience Sunday!). Rest up and reenergize for the next one!

  11. So many runners have had to make this tough decision (myslef included!) and I think that you are making a wise choice. What I love about your blog is that you are honest and real with yourself and us. Thanks Callie! You will get that PR soon enough :-)

  12. You gotta do what’s right for you, not what you think blogland wants to read about. I think you’re definitely making the right decision :)

  13. Good for you Callie! I am a firm believer that we should listen to our bodies (and minds) – and if yours is telling you it might not be good to race, then it’s best to listen! There will always be more races – and definitely more Iron Girl events – but you only have one YOU!

    And I can attest: Walking 13.1 miles is HARD. Back in 2008 I walked 4 half marathons because of a sprained ankle that kept me from running. those were some of the hardest miles (and hardest training) I’ve ever done! Definitely not something I’d recommend doing without training those “walking muscles”! Even at the SRQ half marathon I ended up walking the last 3 miles due to some issues I was having and that was the hardest part of the race for me!

    Enjoy the weekend – your body and mind will let you know when it’s ready to race another 13.1!

  14. Better to sit out than risk an injury, there will be other races!
    and I agree, I don’t know that I could walk 13.1 miles…unless there was a huge bowl of ice cream at the end =)

  15. Jen

    Last summer I had signed up to run a half I was super excited about. As my training progressed I was more exhausted than I’d ever been and then the nausea set in. Ah yes pregnancy which I was so happy about but my training took a serious back burner to sleeping and throwing up. I look back and it was the right decision not to run and the gift of my son made all my tough decisions of the last year worth it.

  16. You have just made one of the toughest, and smartest, choices that many of us CANNOT make. We pay for the consequences afterwards and spend time recoveing from something that we should not have started. I STAND AND APPLAUD YOU (via the interwebs) for being strong enought to make the right decision.

  17. Good for you. Seriously, it takes a lot of courage and confidence to make the SMART rather than the potentially popular decision. Kudos!

  18. I feel ya! I am about to post of my own blog why I am not running a 10k in a couple weeks that I said I was going to. For all the same reasons as you point out for your race. I am not there yet….

  19. I agree, smart decision. There will always be other races and next time you will feel better prepared to really rock it out :)

  20. That is a really hard and brave decision but ultimately a really smart one. There will always be races and you shouldn’t do something just for the sake of doing it or just for the sake of your readers. Yes, the blog can help with accountability, etc. but your heart has to be in it as much as your mind. Good for you!

  21. This is SUCH a disappointment, Callie!!!! lol jk. You made a smart choice. You’ll get ‘em next time.

  22. I signed up for my first half marathon in like five years right about this time last year. I was trained, excited, you name it. Then, a few days before the race, I came down with a cold. And it settled in my chest, because as an asthmatic, even when my asthma is under control, when I get a cold, that’s where it goes.

    It was the most depressing feeling to go to the expo and pick up a bib and t-shirt that I wasn’t going to use and didn’t earn (and paid money for!). But when I woke up race day morning and laid in bed feeling like crap, I knew it was the right thing to do. But it wasn’t an easy choice.

  23. i think you are being very smart! trying to balance work, being a mom and wife, your sanity and training can be too tough. good call to pull out and take the pressure off yourself. aren’t we doing this for fun? have a great weekend!

  24. Rebecca Castillo

    Very inspiring, thanks for sharing :)

  25. Good for you for listening to your body! Wise decision.

  26. Deciding not to race is hard – but often it is the right thing to do. As for walking – I walked the entire last 10 miles of this year’s DisneyWorld Marathon, and it was so much HARDER than running!

    Take care of yourself, and sign up for another race when you’re ready!

  27. tracey

    You made a good call, and I wish I would have followed your instincts! I was not fully trained, and hopefully it won’t result in an injury. I walked probably half of it. It was sunny at the start, but rain started after about mile 6 for me, and the wind on the bridges was awful! The rain came down in sheets at times, but then lo and behold the sun was shining as I crossed the finish line. I am proud that I accomplished it, but hindsight is always 20/20….

  28. Ara

    Like many have said, you made the best decision for you and for your body. It’s better to back out of a race than to push it and possibly get injured running the race. Plus, races aren’t as fun if you’re doing it for someone other than yourself.

  29. PattiR

    OMG – i so needed to read this post this morning. I’m at the tail end of training for my first 1/2 marathon and have been fighting (both physically and mentally) a sore knee since Easter Sunday. I only made it 5 miles yesterday and had to stop because it hurt. I cried almost the entire walk back home because i was so disapointed. The 1/2 i was planning on doing is only two weeks away, and i just don’t think i can do it. I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that i most likely will not accomplish this goal. It’s so nice to hear your words and the posts of other readers. Thank you!

  30. You are a better woman than I. And I think you made the right decision. I have never been able to make that call but there were several times I should have. You are right, walking a half is no fun. I have been there done that.

  31. Allison

    You know the saying “You never regret a workout?” Well, I can think of lots of workouts I have regretted. For the most part they involve getting injured, which is of course, far more likely when you haven’t trained properly or are pushing yourself too hard. Good for you for making the decision that was right for you!

  32. Good for you and double good for you for being so honest, not only with yourself but with your readers. I bailed on two events that I’d planned to do in the past year too — my first tri (which I’ve still yet to do) and a 10K I love. In both cases, when the time got close for both, I knew I just wasn’t ready. But I just buried my sidelining down deep and never even shared it, despite the fact that I publicly said I was doing both (one was a guest post on someone else’s site and the other was “just” on Twitter, so I didn’t feel I was being that deceptive). It’s so hard to make those calls and I’m not sure about you, but I was really disappointed in myself for not getting my act together. But then I remember that I still was doing a pretty good at my most important job — being a mom. So I finally decided to cut myself some slack. She’s not going to be a little one forever. So when she’s off having sleepovers and spending all her time with her friends, I’ll have more time to focus more intently on training for races, etc. I just don’t know how so many moms do both. They amaze me!

  33. Katie D.

    You ROCK!!!

    Last week did a half and walked a lot due to a couple issues I was having. Walking was much tougher than running.

    I’m supposed to do a 25k in 3 weeks and am on the edge of DNS. I have a very sore right shin and just feel burnt out on running, not excited at all for it. I’m going to give a long run a go this weekend and see how it goes before I make my final decision.

  34. i know how you feel! I had to walk st Pete rnr due to an injury and it was torture!! I just wanted to be done and listen to Flo!

  35. I meant to comment on this on Friday, but life got in the way. Like everyone else, I think this is such a great and brave decision. Being someone who is huge into listening to my body to avoid injury, whenever I read about people who push themselves through a race unprepared and then either hurt themseleves or just really hate it, I’m thinking WHY DID YOU DO THAT? There are always other races, and we need to take care of our bodies. Thanks for letting me know I’m not crazy for thinking that!

  36. It is such a tough decision!! One I’ve had to make due to injury. It sounds like you’ve made the right decision. And you are so right – walking 13.1 miles is way different!!!

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