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How Do I Know If I Am Ready For A Race?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 | 14 Comments

Okay, so you started running.  Hopefully, you’ve been running barefoot.  You’ve learned good form.  You’ve slowly built up your mileage.  You’re feeling good.  You’re ready for a new challenge- a race.

How do you know you’re ready?

In my experience- you don’t.

It doesn’t matter if the race is a small, local 5k or a world-renowned marathon.  You can follow the most successful training programs, eat precisely the right foods, do the perfect amount of crosstraining, etc.  You will never be perfectly prepared.  You will always have a feeling that you could have done more.

Why is this important?

Sometimes that “I’m not ready for this!!!!” feeling keeps us from experiencing amazing adventures.  It’s like anything else in life- some preparation is a good thing.  More preparation is usually a little better.  However, over-preparation eventually becomes a delaying tactic.  This applies to all kinds of stuff besides running races- having children, changing jobs, painting the kitchen… whatever.  Sometimes it’s best to just close your eyes and leap.

[warning- this is a “TMI” story]

Speaking of having children, this is precisely how Shelly and I made the leap.  After a night out on the town, we were preparing for bed.  Shelly was brushing her teeth.  She was about to take her birth control pill.  We looked at each other for a brief second- I could read her eyes and she could read mine.  One of us verbalized the unspoken message; “We should have kids.”  The response: “Okay.”  And she spit the pill in the toilet.

Were we ready?  We definitely didn’t think so.  But we were far more prepared than we thought.  If we had waited until we felt we were completely prepared, we would still be kidless.  It was worthwhile taking the leap.

On our journey thus far, we’ve met a lot of people.  Many were contemplating signing up for their first race or their first long race.  Here’s my challenge: sign up right now!  Don’t think about it, just do it!  Act before you give yourself a reason not to do it.  Don’t read on until you’re signed up.

It’s cool, I’ll wait.


Exhilarating, isn’t it?  Don’t worry if you’re scared.  That’s part of the fun.

So, what race did you sign up for?  Leave a comment!



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  1. Ant Prior
    November 13, 2011

    Over the last 12 months I’ve made a transition to barefoot… I’m Running the Brighton (uk) 10k next Sunday 20th Nov.. Also have place in the Brighton Half in Feb and Brighton Marathon in April (2012)… I’ve had places in both races in the past and not been able to race due to injury. Fast forward to now.. Ive taken inspiration from Born To Run, Chi Running and most recently The Barefoor Running Book… My advice to anyone thinking about making the transition is to take your time.. When I first read the Chi Running book, about 3 years ago, in the first few pages I read and ignored the advice to go back to basics and expect it to take about 3 years to improve your technique and eventually feel the benefits.. I ignored it because I thought “it won’t take that long.. I can’t wait three years” so I pressed on… But, my injuries continued to get worse to the point at one stage where my ITB prevented me from even walking down the stairs… Now, 3 years later (and it doesn’t seem that long ago) I’m running comfortably with a smile on my face and accepting the fact that I run a bit slower.. It really doesn’t bother me.. My previous best 10k time was 47mins.. Not blistering but it was my PB, now I’m looking forward to next Sundays race.. And I can honestly say that I really don’t mind what my time will be, I’m just over the moon to be running again and loving it! I’m not a barefoot evangelist… but the transition has enabled me to continue a hobbie/pass time/exercise that I really benefit from…

    I would say sign up for a race if you are sure that you’re not going to put yourself under added pressure to stretch your distance and training faster than you should especially if you are still transitioning.. You could set yourself back… Believe me, I’ve done it!!

    Good luck

  2. Kim
    November 6, 2011

    I have just finished my first marathon in on the gravel roads of the local forest here in denmark. the goal was to run all the entire race AND to have a good day – I did 😉

    Keeping your point in mind that one should always have time to a quick word with the wolenters. Actually it gave me a lot to have a chat with them.

    the other thing I bring from this site was to have fun the first half – and then give some more 😉

    Thank you for shearing d

    I know a marathon is nothing in this community, but it was my first on the way to ultras !

  3. Mitch
    November 5, 2011

    Guess I’m signing up for the Burning River 100… I’m 17, may god be with me during this next year.

  4. krista
    November 3, 2011

    I’m waiting to register for my first 50k. The registration lotto opens in December, unless I decide to do the one with Shacky and Vanessa. I actually don’t want to wait that long (the race is in March), but have to get my hips back to relatively working order before I jump.

    BTW – I’m still waiting for the TMI part. Ha! 😉

  5. Rob
    November 2, 2011

    It’s always good to have a carrot on the end of the stick. Having goals to chase after is a good thing; for newbies and veterans alike. The key is to *know* when you’re ready enough for that goal or when you might be better off skipping or pushing back that goal because of over-training, fatigue or other factors that could lead to injury or burnout (i.e. symptom of having too many goals!).

    I have a friend who rarely races because he thinks he’s never quite ready when the goal race rolls around, “I’m still just a few weeks out” he’d say. Well I’d much rather do a race undertrained than skip a race as you don’t know if you’ll ever get another chance.

    Regret the things you haven’t done not the things you do! I say go for it!

  6. Ankit
    November 2, 2011

    Jason – you’re certified crazy! 🙂

    I’ve been regularly running 15-20k long runs for about two months now. Been postponing registering for my first full in Delhi (mid Dec).

    I have poor training and yet I have registered. I am committed to complete this.

    Thanks for running me over the edge!

  7. Eli
    November 1, 2011

    I am forteen and I signed up for a 50k witch does not feel totally crazy to me although the majority of the running population might think so. Thank you for posting this maybe now I can convince my mom!

  8. joohneschuh
    November 1, 2011

    Okay, Riek, congrats! Now join us and do Berlin Marathon together next year!

    Everybody else: We from BRS Germany Chapter are gathering fellow barefoot runners for this event. Interested?

    Registration will be possible until approximately Jan 2012, the race itself is on 30th of September.

    Have a look at this invitiation, too:

    Greetings, Jo

  9. Charles Galvin
    November 1, 2011

    Signed up for the Super Spartan Race last week! After finishing a marathon a week and a half ago a fun obstacle course race through the mud is in order.

  10. Max (Barefoot Mecki)
    November 1, 2011

    copying Riek:

    Keufelskopf mini in Germany, May 2012. 22k, wonderful single trails, hilly course. Thank you, Jason!

  11. Felipe
    November 1, 2011

    Salinas Valley Turkey Trot. I have a couple of 13.1’s under my belt, but unsatisfactory results. This is more in line with what I’m capable of right now. I run this trail about three times a week in Bikila LS’s. Lot’s of Eucalyptus nuts EVERYWHERE!

  12. mark lofquist
    November 1, 2011

    you say: “You will always have a feeling that you could have done more.” and I add sometimes you’ve done too much. monitoring the indicators of over-training is just as important!

    …btw I dropped out of the MCM on Sunday. It was my first DNF I was pretty sad about that decision, but I think it was smart – I need to save myself for my next race. but no one wants to let themselves down.

  13. Riek
    November 1, 2011

    Keufelskopf mini in Germany, May 2012. 22k, wonderful single trails, hilly course. Thank you, Jason! 🙂

  14. Victor
    November 1, 2011

    Yes, it is exhilarating, but don’t do what I’ve done in the past, which is signing up for a marathon first and tailoring the training program to the race date second. The Internet *will* provide you with a plan to fit the schedule, but it may not be a sensible plan for you personally. In my case (embarrassingly I made the mistake twice), the training was too aggressive and I dropped out of training injured. Listen to your body!