Q: Be prepared to race off cross training?

Lauren, how do you prepare to race if you’re coming off an injury and have been doing lots of cross-training with some running workouts mixed in?

-Injured

A:

Injured,

You asked this question a while back, but it just got voted up to the top of the list, so I hope the answer still helps.  If not now, it will in the future…no matter how much we swear we won’t go through crappy injuries ever again, its part of the reality of the sport (should have stuck with knitting).

When you have an upcoming race and you have been splitting training time between running workouts and cross training, there are three main things to consider:

  • Physical Prep:  Do a fartlek or a track session with any mix of reps between 1 and 5 minutes in length at least once before you have to compete, no later than 5 days before the race.  You will feel extremely uncomfortable and out of running shape.  Do shorter reps for your secondary workout with plenty of recovery to feel rhythm as your last workout before racing.
  • Mental Prep: You can’t project forward in the week leading up to the race.  If you feel terrible working out, that’s normal.  You literally might feel terrible until the morning of the race, or half way through the race.  Every day must be treated as independent from all other days, giving each day your total focus.  Your times will likely be off in workouts, but it doesn’t matter.  Your frame of mind in the last week before the race needs to be “I’m achieving the right stimulus, no matter the time.”
  • Competing: This is so hard to do when you don’t feel 100%.  I had to race the Olympic Trials with a broken foot off 4 weeks of cross training, and it was the hardest mental race I’ve ever run.  If you can get outside of your stressful world and focus on the big picture, you will be fine.  Affirm the following to yourself:  “This is one step on the long path of my season and career; many outcomes are possible here and I’m excited to see what I can do; every great athlete has had to deal with this at some point; I want to give 100% of what I am today so I can accurately plan the next training block for my comeback.”

Go get ‘em.

-Lauren