Ragnar Trail Training

What I learned training for a race for 12 weeks

For the past 12 weeks, I’ve been training for a Ragnar Trail race. I’ve never run a trail race, and the only road races I’ve run were Thanksgiving Day 5K races where I walked 85% of the course. My commitment to do this race was significant for me because I did so when I was literally in the worst shape of my life.

I had always been an athlete. When I was younger, I mainly played baseball and basketball. Skiing and hiking became my main activities in my twenties, but “real” adult life eventually took over. Over the past seven or eight years, my career has overwhelmed many other aspects of my life, and I found myself more unhealthy and more out-of-shape every year. My lack of fitness turned once-enjoyable activities like skiing and hiking into chores that I’ve mostly avoided.

The first month of my training was full of fits and starts. When work allowed the time, I trained hard—too hard. I trained like I was still that fit athlete who was always active. I injured myself, not seriously, but enough that I needed to rest for a couple weeks to heal. Thereafter, I had to cut back on the intensity. I realized then that exercise alone wasn’t going to lead to success because I physically couldn’t exercise long enough and hard enough to make much of a difference.

I needed to lose weight.

I knew that I wasn’t going to lose much weight doing the only light exercises I was capable of doing, so I had to also change my diet. I tried a low-carbohydrate diet and had immediate success. I lost a lot of weight quickly. The weight loss caused a positive feedback loop and I eventually began to be able to train a little bit harder.

Seven weeks after I changed my diet and got more serious about these changes, I’m proud to say that I’ve made some progress, but I’m still far behind my goals. Regardless, race day is coming up rather quickly, and my “runs” will be filled with more walking than running, but I’m glad I made the commitment to do this race. I’ll let you know how it goes.