Race withdrawal – Common-sense or fear?

Daily I struggle with a dilemma. Should I do the Tararua Mountain Race?

Am I thinking about pulling out because I can’t get ready in time? Or am I scared?

Fear (or the “fear of fear”) is a powerful motivator for me. It makes me want to do the race, just to prove that I’m not scared of it, and to hell with common-sense!

I’d have given up on this race already except that I’ve got a friend who’s dead keen, so it’s a real opportunity to do an iconic race that I otherwise might never get to.

But I’m fighting a race against time. I’m s-l-o-w-l-y starting to put my injured calf behind me and beginning to run without pain. But the race looms in early March, now only seven weeks away, and I need to build a fitness that can endure 35km of hilly mountain running, with over 2000m of climbing and descending – probably 8 hours on my feet.

Common-sense says that I can’t be ready in time. The race website says that “If you aren’t sure whether you’re ready, then you aren’t ready!”

Maybe science can help me?

If I can build to 75% of the race effort, I reckon I can find the last 25% on race-day (the effort doesn’t have to be all in one session – spread over several sessions in a single day should do).

So I’ve got six weeks to build to 6 hours of run/walking and 1500m of climbing and descending. Optimistically, my condition right now will handle 2 hours and 500m.

Using the “Increase your mileage by a maximum of 10% per week” rule, along with the “Take a rest/recovery week every fourth week” rule, I’ll only get to 3.25 hours and 800m by race day – not even close! To get to 6 hours and 1500m, at 10% per week, I need 14 weeks, not 6!

Build mileage by 10% per week

If I want to get to 6 hours and 1500m in just six weeks, I need to increase my weekly mileage by 25%. Conventional wisdom be damned!

Build mileage by 25% per week

That will leave six days to taper – not the 2-3 weeks I’d like to taper for a big running race. But my goal for this race is completion rather than performance, so a smaller taper (while not ideal) won’t matter so much.

So, ignoring common-sense and conventional wisdom (as you do), I’m a shoo-in to be ready for this race! There’ll be no more thoughts of withdrawal! A path has been plotted so I’ll push on, and either make it, or get injured.

The burden is lifted!

NB. The smart money’s on a calf injury in week two.

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2 Responses to Race withdrawal – Common-sense or fear?

  1. A smattering of RICE in your recovery and you’ll be fine. Have fun, sounds like a cool race.

  2. jontsnz says:

    Just found out the Tararua Mountain race will not be run in 2012 (but will be back in 2013). Probably a good thing, the way my training had been going! I suddenly have a vacancy in March. Hmmm….

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