Ammi Midstokke is a nutritionist with an arguably-dangerous appetite for adventure. Her monthly “Eatology” nutrition column appears in each print edition of “Out There Outdoors” and online here. She lives with her daughter in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Reader Question: I signed up for a race but forgot to train. I don’t want to miss the event and I don’t want to die. Is there a happy middle-ground?
Ammi: First, let me just congratulate you on having the courage to sign up for an event and the unwavering pride to not bail last minute. You are not alone and sometimes being totally unprepared for something is rather a relief. Obviously, you’ll have to let go of your goals with the exception of one: Don’t die.
It seems easy, but your brain will attempt to trick you into thinking you are a super hero who doesn’t need training anyway. At the same time, it will forget to tell you that, since you are untrained, your heart rate is going to jack up higher, you’ll require more glucose, but probably have less of an appetite. Trained or untrained, the Bonk will prevail.
Most important, you need to be honest with yourself about your lack of training. Change your goals (see above) and join in for the camaraderie and experience. Start slow and stay slow. If you have something in the tank as you begin your last 25-30% of the race, then pick it up a little bit and surprise yourself. Fuel religiously as appropriate to your event distance/speed. And there’s no need to make yourself suffer. Use the lack of training as an opportunity to create a benchmark, to set expectations for the next event that you may (or may not) effectively train for. And most of all, have fun!