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!
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!
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.