Friday, November 2, 2018

Running A Race That You're Not Trained to Run

You did it! You signed up for a half marathon and you plan on crushing it! Well, a day goes by, then another day, then a YEAR, and you are stuck on the couch one week before race day, freaking out and determined to finish it anyway. After all, what's so bad about running a longer distance race, like a half marathon or a marathon, without training for it? You just might get a little sore the next day, right?
Wrong. And I don't mean that in a Debbie Downer kind of way, either.

There's more to a race than just running it with absolutely no prep. Pushing one's body to do what it has never done may seem heroic and gutsy, and in some instances it is. However, when you aren't faced all of a sudden with doing something out of necessity, and you had that year to train and decided not to, it's not a good idea.

Having been involved in sports, I understand the value of proper training; not only do you get better results that you can be proud of, you also respect your body; health is so important. We only have one body, so why misuse and abuse it with little concern? Like anything else we strive to accomplish in life that's tough, running requires discipline and consistent practice.

Here is what can happen to your body if you don't properly prepare yourself for a half marathon or longer, according to Women's Health Magazine:

"You May Have to Walk... A Lot
Things might start out just fine, and if you're relatively conditioned from other types of exercises, you could cruise along even for the first few miles. Then, your lack of running-specific training will start to catch up to you. Between the elevated heart rate, labored breathing, and muscle fatigue (not to mention some other symptoms that you're about to read about), you will have to slow down, no matter how much desire you have to sustain your pace. "The brain monitors the status of what's going on in your body, including indicators of tissue damage, temperature, hydration and fuel status, electrolyte concentrations, etc.," says Hamilton. "When it senses that things are getting out of hand, it will intervene and force you to reduce the stress on the body." But Hamilton also warns that you shouldn't assume that, worst case, you can just walk it. "Whether you run it, walk it, or crawl it on all fours, 13.1 miles is a long way to go—four hours if you 'just' walk. The word 'just' doesn’t belong in that sentence."

You'd Hurt
During a half, your leg muscles will experience micro-tears, which is what leads to soreness after the fact, even for those who've trained well for the race. The untrained runner is even more prone to these, so aches can begin even while you're still going, and will most certainly be more unpleasant later. You could also suffer from tendon damage, which could be more serious and lasting, leading to tendonitis or tendinosis for long after the race is a distant memory. Stress fractures are also a risk, especially if you have undiagnosed osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis). "Going from zero to a half-marathon in one shot places you at a much greater risk than your fellow runners who've gradually trained their bodies to withstand the mile after mile of pounding," says Hamilton.
You Might Feel Really Hot (or Really Cold)
Temperature regulation is a challenge for an exerting body, especially one that's sweating up a storm. If you suddenly get the chills after you've been working up a sweat, you may be depleted of electrolytes. While this can happen to any runner who doesn’t do a good job rehydrating or refueling her body, it's especially of concern if you haven't trained your system for this type of endurance activity. "When you're not well conditioned, you tend to sweat a very concentrated sweat, meaning more electrolytes are excreted than from someone who is well conditioned," says Hamilton. "Your body hasn't learned to conserve those resources like someone who's done a lot of long runs."  Untrained runners are not only less efficient at temperature regulation, they're likely generating more heat because they're working harder to sustain their pace than someone who put in the miles beforehand—meaning they're more likely to overheat, as well.
Your Head Could Hurt, and the World Could Spin
Disorientation, dizziness, and lightheadedness all are possibilities if you become dehydrated, your electrolytes go completely out of whack, and/or your body goes through all of its available sources of energy-sustaining glucose. If you feel any symptoms affecting your head, trust us, it's not all in your head. You need an aid station and electrolytes (salt and other minerals), and/or quick-digesting sugar pronto. Even still, you may not be able to continue. "Bottom line, you have to respect your body and listen to its signals," Hamilton says. "Pain is your body's way to tell you that something's amiss. If you ignore that, you do so at your own peril.""
What are your thoughts on (not) training before a race? 

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