Missing your marathon by ignoring one simple rule. It’s stupid. There’s no other word for it. I can’t use the convenient excuse of ignorance … because I do, in fact, know better. I learned the “rule of specificity” only a few short months ago getting my RRCA running coach certification.
Softball has NOTHING to do with a marathon – sprinting the bases does not constitute speedwork; running after a ball in deep left field does not replace a pace run. So why on earth would I go play a competitive game of softball four weeks out from my marathon? I’m not a pro – I don’t have a contract. I’m not getting paid to play the game; the only “fans” I have are my mom and dad, who, out of parental bias, think I have a fair shot of becoming the first woman president or winning the Boston marathon (neither of which will ever be in my cards, ever!).
The culprit is my pride and the love of sport – and the price tag is a pulled calf muscle that has me walking like a peg leg, recovering on a couch cushion for nearly a week now. I’m beyond frustrated at missing 30 training miles last week and have no idea what the next three weeks have in store for me (other than a starting gun for the Air Force Marathon). I may be holding spectator signs instead of toeing up at the line with the rest of my runner’s club that followed one of the top training rules:
By my definition: Don’t waste your training on something that has nothing to do with what you’re training for!
Running is obviously the best training for running – consider the risk! I’m telling you now, that softball game was NOT worth the injury and risk of missing this race.
Crosstraining is an important, yes – but ask yourself what that physiological benefit that exercise contributes to your race. Stay committed to what it is you’re training for – what is that exercise’s functional carryover?
Biking and swimming are great exercises, but are you going to pedal or backstroke across the finish line?
Strength training for your core, hips and legs and will help build strength and support you need for a powerful race – but save the working to fatigue for the road. Strength training 2 times a week is sufficient, with 50%-70% less weight than you’d normally use outside training for a race. Weightless hip exercises, lunges and squats will do the trick as well.
Another big tip: do NOT strength train on long run or speedwork days!
Basketball, softball, tennis and the likes? An obvious no! If you find yourself lured to the court or field during race training – just say no. Save your pride for the finish line or you’ll have none when it comes race time. If you simply can’t say “no,” learn to say it – or you run the risk of giving that same answer when someone asks if you get to run the race you’ve trained hard for.
So now I have to tell the athletes I’m training – “do as I say, most definitely not as I do,” which is an incredibly humbling statement to issue.
An injury should be your greatest fear in training – but if you train smart, you reduce that risk significantly.
*I made it to the marathon and set a PR at 3:56! I definitely learned my lesson and definitely pushed myself to the limits on this one.