For the week before race day I will almost always have aches and pains. That is a known known. A practical guarantee.
Nothing that requires treatment, but more like a vague sensation that generates unease.
I will have sore legs, an ache in the arch of my foot, or toes that feel close to broken. I will have constricted breathing, or that facet joint in my neck feels sprained again – not as bad as it was when it triggered four months of physiotherapy, but it will feel like it is on the way out again. My back will be tense and sore and I will be concerned that I am about to encounter 20 acupuncture needles again.
The first time I experienced this, stubbornness was my saviour. To be honest, stubbornness is usually my saviour, but more so this time. I flatly refused to forfeit my race fee. I can’t precisely remember what felt wrong but I did not care that I was clearly falling apart – I was going to race, and it was a short distance, so I probably wouldn’t make it worse.
Of course, there was nothing wrong. I raced, and I was fine.
The next time I raced I was already injured, so my concern was not with finishing or forfeiting my race fee, but in actually being allowed to race by the physiotherapist. He said that I could run, and that my left knee would probably hurt a bit, but I wouldn’t re-injure it if I ran. So I ran, and it was awesome.
Of course, five days later I discovered the joys of compensatory injuries with my right hamstring developing a slight tear, but that’s another cautionary tale.
I started parkrunning, and after having volunteered or lined up on a start line at parkrun almost every Saturday, when faced with a 10k fun run (times two, one a bit hilly), pre-race aches and pains didn’t appear. It was like I’d been desensitised to it.
Then I decided to do a half marathon. I trained diligently, doing every scheduled run, not skipping a day. I read up on the preparation that marathon runners do (because there didn’t seem to be books for half marathoners, and I figured the principles were the same) and discovered positive mantras and envisioning your race, and what to do mentally when you have a few kilometres to go and you feel like stopping. That was when I discovered pre-race nerves.
That’s not completely correct; I’d encountered pre-race nerves before, but I thought that it was the desperate need for the loo before the race precisely when it’s much too late to go to the loo. Not wanting to eat breakfast, or wanting to throw up after breakfast. I didn’t realise that they occur well before the event, and that my general aches and pains before that first race wasn’t an incipient injury.
This discovery meant that the week before my first half marathon I encountered with delight the apparent reappearance of my shin splints. Jeremy can’t remember what ailed him, but we both agreed that it was all nerve related. Sure enough, when we raced we were fine. Afterwards my hip was a bit clicky, but making sure that I fell asleep with my legs straight instead of curling up had that sorted by the next day.
In the lead up to half marathons since I’ve usually had some sort of niggle, and this week, before the Busselton Half Marathon on Saturday I was actually concerned because I didn’t have some indication of nerves. I’m aiming for a bit of a PB – maybe a sub 2hr run if the weather
is with me – so it was like a lack of nerves meant something must be wrong.
Until this morning when I woke up
with a sore throat, and right now, my foot feels sore.
I like pre-race nerves.