The Arkansas 20k- a few thoughts on racing after an injury

The Arkansas 20k- a few thoughts on racing after an injury

The first race back after an injury and an extended amount of time off from training can be very intimidating.  What is a realistic time goal?  What if something starts hurting?  Am I ready for this?

Usually I train and race often enough that I have very realistic goals going into any given race.  In May when my plantar fasciitis flared up I was forced to hit the breaks on my training.  After a few months of rest, physical therapy, cross training, and some easy running I started making progress.  It’s been a very gradual build up but about 4 weeks ago my coach and I felt like I was ready to start introducing speed work back into my training.  I missed a few Grand Prix races because I knew I was no where near ready but I was holding out hope for the Benton 20k.

The Arkansas 20K is one of the more challenging road races I run in Arkansas but I think that’s what brings me back to it each year.  I knew in order to run it I would need to have built up to the distance and would use it as a progressive long run (not all out race).  It’s always hot and the course is hilly but that’s part of the fun.

So how do you go into a race that’s already challenging when you’re undertrained and not at your best?

  1.  Adjust your time and pace expectations.  This is crucial! I went into the 20k knowing I would probably not run a single mile as fast as I ran last year when I was in better race shape.  I actually had no overall time goal- I just wanted to run pain-free. 
  2. Start CONSERVATIVE! My other goal was to negative split which meant I wanted my first mile to be my slowest.  If you get caught up in the moment and let race day adrenaline take over it can be very easy to go out too fast. This is a hard way to race when you are in shape but even worse when you aren’t (and you try to keep up with your old times).  I knew the hardest section of the course was in the first half so I held back and waited to pick it up.  Mission accomplished!

I’m proud of both of these races for different reasons.  While my finish time was about 6 minutes off from last year I still consider this year’s race a big success.  My foot did great and I finished strong.  It’s also given me a great goal to work towards next year.  I’m going to aim for my best Benton 20K yet…

And now for a few pics with Searcy Rush friends and teammates.  Love this bunch!

5 thoughts on “The Arkansas 20k- a few thoughts on racing after an injury

  1. Congratulations Tia! I love those shirts and medals, and you did a great job at accomplishing your goals. I love that you were able to run this race as a workout and enjoy it and be with friends, while scoring some points and staying injury-free.

    It is so important to keep perspective after an injury. Fitness does return but it’s never linear. I ran the Cooper River Bridge Run just a few weeks after I was able to run again. I was in the sub-45 corral but knew I would not finish the 10K in under 45 minutes. I ran a 48 and some change, which was about 5 minutes slower than I hoped when I registered that January, but I was thankful to at least complete the race when 3 weeks earlier, I was not running! Like you, I adjusted my goals and expectations so I could finish smiling and happy and enjoy the day.

    In the end we are the only people who care about our times, and the things we remember most about races are the memories we make with friends and family, not necessarily if it was a PR.
    Amy Lauren Scott recently posted…Weekly Rundown: September 11 – 17My Profile

  2. I think you did a great job of striking the necessary balance between activity and recovery. Very clear narrative and I’ll definitely have to try some of the tips that you provided. Quite eye-opening!

  3. Congratulations. You had a solid race strategy, and executed it on it really well. It ensured that you finished strong and had a positive race experience. Racing after a long lay-off from injury is definitely intimidating, but you handled it really well and now you have a baseline/benchmark. Congrats!

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