Unfair Advantages (No-Train Disclosures)

It’s been a little too doomy-gloomy around here for my liking, what with all the c-word crap.


Any other Transporter/Jason Statham fans out there?  Anybody else wish they had a Ukranian accent and a bright red bob wig?  And a handle of vodka?  I’m not alone here, right?

But really, let’s shift gears – how ’bout some running…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To be all full-disclosure on the No-Train-Racing Plan, let’s go over the three things I believe deserve full credit for its success :

(Warning : big, boastful, cocky statements ahead.  Don’t hate me.)

Mermaid Half – the beginning 

  • I’m naturally athletic.  I know, it’s kind of an unfair advantage.  No, I haven’t always been a “runner” – I was a ball-sports girl (where running was punishment and not the sport) – but thanks to all those competitive years, being in shape comes easy.
  • I’m one of those people that’s annoyingly good at everything.  Hand me a ball, racquet, dart, scrabble board, WHATEVER – as long as it’s not musically-related, I’ll put up a decent fight.

Tell me to run a marathon?  Give me a few weeks and I’ll knock it out.

Recap of 5W2M

  • I’m stubborn to a fault.  Nobody likes to fail.  Saying I’m going to do something and then not pulling through is my biggest fear and motivator.  If I claim I’m going to PR and don’t, it’ll beat the crap out of me.  (Even an age group 2nd place can’t redeem that)

Missed Half PR

And if redemption means running two races in six days, by God, I will.  Just to prove I can.

Laguna Half & Fontana PR*

Why am I telling you all this?  I swear it’s not nauseate you with how awesome I think I am.


My problem with all this comes in knowing how little I can get away with and still be good.

In high school I was a pretty good pitcher.  Ok, I was really good.  But not because I worked harder or cared more than anybody else.  Truthfully, I skated by on as little work as possible.  I stumbled into practices hungover, flirted with the baseball team during shared cage time, and made a habit of warming up for games five minutes before they started.  It drove my catcher MAD.

“Do you know how good you could be if you actually worked hard and gave a shit?!?”

And here I find myself implementing the same approach to running.  I could almost hear her voice when Chacha went on a small rant at the finish line of Fontana two weekends ago :

“YOU DON’T EVEN TRAIN!  I work my butt off, and you roll out of bed after a few weeks of half-assed “training” and PR like it’s no big deal.  It’s maddening.”

Sure I can keep getting by on my non-existent training plans, ban from the weight room, drinking too much, & eating crap.  I’ll get to keep my “normal life” and not have to sell my soul to Brooks or cash our savings into stock in Gu & Gatorade.

But then that pesky little voice in the back of my mind chimes in…

‘Just how good could you be??  What if you gave JUST A TEENSY bit more?’ 

Stop skipping workouts more often than actually doing them  –  picking up a weight once in a while  –  making friends with speedwork and hills  –  going to bed at a decent hour  –  stop considering frozen yogurt a health food…

What would happen if I committed to those small changes?

Sub-4 hour marathon?

A PR on a course that’s not straight downhill?

A PR Sweep in 2011?  (Mar, Half, 10K, 5K)

The ability to talk while running with friends without requiring an oxygen tank?

It’ll be more work, sure.  But really what am I going to be doing with myself once this wedding, honeymoon, and move across town are out of the way?

(Oh, did I forget to tell you we’re moving?  Yeah, in between the wedding and the honeymoon.  I know.  Good planning…)

We’ll see how long this ambitious attitude lasts.  Don’t hold me to anything, ok?  But for now, let’s toy with the “what if” thoughts and the dreams of 3:xx marathons…

I normally don’t ask questions like this, but I have to know –

What kind of a runner/exerciser/competitor are you?

– Are you super disciplined and follow a plan to the T?

– Do you “wing it”, and just trust you’re able-bodied enough to survive?

– Rely on training buddies to get you through?

– Or were you genetically fabricated to bust out 7:00/miles, back-to-back marathons, and go from zero to 20 milers like it’s nothing?  (AHEM, SR…)

Sarah Soon-To-Be


38 thoughts on “Unfair Advantages (No-Train Disclosures)

  1. I’m no SR, but I think it’s easier for me than others. I do train pretty hard, but in my second year of running I qualified for the NYC and Boston marathons and had a PR on every race. Some of it is genetics, some of it is discipline (which you could argue is also genetic). I could probably get away with very little training and discipline and still be a decent runner, but to go sub-3:30 marathon or 1:35 half marathon, I think it takes a fair amount of work (I’m pretty damn close!).


  2. When training for my first half, I followed training to a T. Until I got injured (effing shins). In the 3 months leading up to the race I ran mayyyybe three times. But I finished the race (albeit, slow as hell) and another one the month after. Then my whole 3 1/2 marathons in 90 days thing – yeah didn’t train as much as I should because I knew I could finish on minimal training. I had done it before, I could do it again. If I ran more consistently (aka if my shins allowed me to), I bet I could knock tons of time off my PR.

    And now with the marathon training, I feel like I NEED to stick to my plan since it’s my first. I’m trying, but I think soon I’ll be making a trip to the sports doc to figure out what the hell is wrong w/my lower legs. BOO!


  3. i’m actually pretty dedicated to my training plan, but thing is… i totally change it every week, so it’s really just my training plan, not the one i originally start with! the one thing i never ever change is my long run. very dedicated to that!


  4. This is kind of a fun post. I’m definitely naturally athletic as well, but for whatever reason I always busted my butt on top of my ablities in high school sports. Because I was a sprinter, I’m still pretty terrified of the whole distance shiz, so I think that scare propels me to train hard. That and I’m a competitive B and if I see a runner chick posting faster times than me that I THINK I should be beating?!?! oh man… thanks for the fuel on my fire. (this is excluding you, for the record… I like that we’re around the same speed-ish) :D


  5. I am definitely a super disciplined (obsessive) runner that follows a plan for a race. I don’t rely on running buddies and run by myself. I am NOT naturally athletic and don’t bust out the 7 minute miles and have to work on getting faster. I will however, take the musical challenge that you can’t do and play any instrument :) I am naturally good at that… guess it’s good I’m a music teacher!


  6. I too was a ball sports girl, softball to be exact. Running was most definitely a punishment. I was horrible at it too so it baffles me that I now enjoy it (most of the time). I am not disciplined at all. I try to follow training plans and I never end up following it exactly. I ran a half marathon in February with barely training at all and it was HARD! I definitely need to try to stick to a training plan in the future.


  7. So, music (playing instruments, singing, etc), sewing/knitting, anything having to do with my hands, I also can just do well. But I am not very good at hand-eye coordination. We seem to be opposites in that way.

    I don’t always follow a plan to a tee. Only if I’m really determined to get a good time for a race. I wouldn’t say I’m as naturally gifted a runner as you are (or SR or Margot or RoseRunner, for that matter), but it’s all relative. I’m certainly naturally faster than a lot of people without having to work that hard.

    And that’s the thing. There will always be someone better or worse than you in whatever arena.

    While I can’t train for 10 days and nearly PR at the Mermaid Half (like you), I don’t have to go crazy and follow a strict training schedule to run a 2:00 half, which some people would find really fast. All relative.


    • Ahh Chacha…I have to say you made my day by mentioning SR and Roserunner in the same breath as me when it comes to running. Although I know that if all of us raced, they would probably be taking down the finish line clock by the time I finished :). But that’s ok…bc it all IS totally relative. Honestly, dedication to make yourself excel is a talent all in itself (I’d be interested in hearing how much a training plan makes a dif for you…I’ve never done one but that doesn’t mean I don’t try)!

      For me, unfortunately I know that no matter how much I improve, I’ll always be in the league where there’s some 11 year old girl or dude in a Waldo costume kicking my ass. It bugs me, but hey, that’s life :).


  8. I’m definitely not a natural runner. I ran my first 1/2 last September after a few months of training, and have done like 7 (slow ones) since- and I have to fight to get through them (more mentally). I always have great intentions as far as training plans but life seems to get in the way- the one time I did stick to tempos and speed workouts I ran my fastest- the PR is in the pudding, I guess.


  9. Ahhhhhh love this post!! So true girl, if you stepped up and trained you would KILL it. Shoot, you already kick some hiney without effort so I can only imagine you would be doubly rocking if you tried.

    I wish I could stay healthy enough to train and be fast. I am one of those dumb a$$es that has to learn on my own. Sigh. Stubborn? Maybe a little. My 5k/10k pace is low 7’s. Somehow I can train on my long runs in the high 7s and then blow hard on race day. I either end up hurt by being a total idiot or my mental battle leads to a total fail. One day I’ll figure it out. Or not. Whatevs.

    I love speed work and tempos. My race times did improve when I incorporated those 2 runs with the long run.

    Keep on keepin’ on, you are awesome!


  10. I was never good at hard core athletics – but I was an awesome dancer. Then I developed a super terrible case of Bronchitis Senior year and still practiced and trained bc I had a solo and I wouldn’t give it up… killed my lungs, few years later found out I also had a small heart condition so I started trying to build up cardio again which was awful. I couldn’t even run a mile at first. BUT I can now run 6.5 miles (not without stopping – but still!!) and while I’m jealous of your awesome running skills it gives me something to work towards :) Reading stories of how far ppl can go and that a lot of it is mental (which is true) helps me realize that nothing is impossible. I’ll get there one day :)


    • Oh mylanta – all you people with legit reasons for not running really make me feel bad about “my knee hurts” and “I’m tired” and “I don’t feel like it”. Good for you – that’s incredible how you’ve come back from it!


  11. Gosh you suck! j/k but kinda not really. I work my butt off for my times. And have to eat super healthy so I don’t get fat. Although I slipped up the past couple weeks and ate tons of junk and then couldn’t fit into a dress I needed to wear to a wedding. I can fit into it now, I just can’t breath, overrated right?
    I guess I am just jealous, I’ll get over it. My BF is a natural athlete (and super lazy) but he runs 19 min 5k’s without breaking a sweat. So I am used to you super athletes.


  12. I totally love this post. I sort of run (maybe 15 miles a week at usually a 9 something pace) and always wind up racing at close to an 8 minute pace. Lately I’ve been pushing it harder during training because I figure if I can chill out at a 9 pace during practice and race at an 8…maybe I can chill at an 8 and race at a 7? I’ll never forfeit my drinking, late nights, and “run for fun” (I accidentally typed “run for men” the first time) though..because I really have no desire to drive myself crazy over running. I think the no train training plan is almost a healthier (at least for me as well) plan to have anyway. -jamie


  13. good thing you are awesome, or i wouldn’t like you! ;)

    i’m just average. i used to be a speedy runner in HS and college but as an ‘adult’ i’m just average. but i only do ‘average’ training too. long runs are important to me but the week day runs are not mandatory. working full time and being a mom and wife is mandatory however.

    i’m ok with being average though. sure, i’m getting faster and running longer but i need to be ok with not be a low twenty-something minute 5K runner like i used to be. maybe someday when my little monster is off to college and i’m a retired housewife and i have nothing better to do than eat right and run i’ll be fast again. ok, probably not… i’ll be too busy reading blogs.


    • I don’t know how you super people that are responsible for the well-being of more than one person do it – I can hardly find the time NOW to work out! Running parents should automatically get a 1 minute/mile handicap, I think.


  14. I enjoyed this post and am awed by naturally fast runners like you. I am not a speedy runner naturally – if I were, I might have more trouble following a training plan. But as it is, I need to put in the training if I want anywhere near a decent time (for me). But I haven’t been dedicated to speedwork or hills, which I will change when I am training for my next running race (right now I’m training for triathlons).


  15. I totally feel ya on the whole being hard on yourself thing. I think that is what pushes me the most. I feel like next time I could do even better, so that keeps me going!


  16. I wish I were a runner like you. I’ve grown up being a couch potato, so getting me up off the couch and in my running shoes is effort alone. I crank out 11 minute miles if I’m lucky. But maybe one day I’ll be fast. Maybe. I’m stubborn enough to try.


  17. I am also fairly naturally athletic and sports have always come more easily to me than most – when it comes to running, I can get okay times w/little training. I don’t love running enough to run 80 million miles a week and I also work best when I have a schedule to follow. So, I’m on a 3-4 runs a week w/cross training and strength training days in between schedule. I’d say I follow it 80% of the time, I do like running, but if I’m not feeling it one day, I give myself the day off. I don’t take it too seriously, but I do put some pressure on myself to not halfass my running (like I do many other parts of my life. ;-) )


  18. I’m very competitive…with myself. I get injured a lot so my numero uno concern is training while listening to my body. I get super bummed when I run a race and the people I entered with do better than me (I’m an awesome friend, I know) but I also have to accept that their bodies are slightly different than mine.

    I was born with severe bilateral congenital talipes equinovarus (google it, I dare you) so my athleticism and balance are whack. It was “corrected” as a child but it still causes problems because my legs, muscles, feet aren’t quite symmetrical/identical. I swear I look normal though!


  19. This is why running pisses me off. I dominate at most things (if you consider excelling at sports in a high school with 150 students “dominating”). I assumed running would be the same. I started getting serious about it a few months ago, and it’s making a fool of me. After much watch shaking and smacking and recalculating, truth is I’m just slow. And if I want to keep running, it’s going to take work to get faster. And I need to get faster because the world will stop rotating if I don’t beat somone, somewhere. Being good at stuff is comfortable for me. Sucking wind is not. I think I hate running.


  20. I follow you on the naturally athletic thing. I can do anything athletic & be good at it. I loved running and races kept my focus on training until…I hurt my back and had to re-do my whole exercise life. Not Awesome. My advice (if you want it or even care) do it up any way you can now because getting old and realizing you CAN’T do things anymore sux :(


  21. yeah I pretty much hate you :)

    I’m NOT naturally a runner or anything close. It never comes easy. I bust my butt to do it, but thats part of what I love about it. :)


  22. I’ve relied(for a little too long) on the fact that I am pretty athletic and so don’t need to put in tons on time training. Plus I am right with you on the failing train – I hate it!

    However, I have gotten out of shape and now can whip out great times over the past year and a half and have been really frustrated by that. Still doing fine in all ball related sports, but my cardio fitness is down making running not as enjoyable.

    The commitment thing is a toughie for me – do I really try and put energy in or just keep coasting? I think the fear of failing if I really tried plays into that one!


  23. I definitely like to make a training plan and really stick to it. I’m so weird and feel such a sense of accomplishment when I can cross off every workout/run for the week. However, I wish I could be like SR! She makes me so jealous!


  24. Dear Sarah,

    You are literally the 20 ish version of myself. Had I known what I know now, here’s what I would tell myself.

    Dear K,

    Yea you are a great soccer player, no one can sprint faster than you. You are a great swimmer too. Things come naturally to you. Guess what…you’ll have two kids and be married in no time flat. Yes, you will still look fantastic for having two kids and being in your mid-thirties. You will also be able to still get out there and play a great game of soccer and finish sub two hour halves. BUT…don’t you want to see what you are really capable of before life gets all complicated with your full-time job and two awesome kiddos. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?

    Love, Yourself


  25. Pingback: Run 2011 (Yes, I Freaking Did) « Once Upon a (L)ime


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