The Day of the Race

There is no better feeling than lining up at the starting line for a big race.  Whether it is a 5K or a full marathon, the excitement in the air is simply palpable.  Adrenaline is pumping through your veins as you preemptively wait for the race to start.  Although the start of the race may be slow due to traffic, finding a good pace time is essential.  But, how did you get to this point?  How did you prepare for finishing this race and achieving the goal you set out for yourself?  For this fifth and final blog post, I am going to extensively discuss what one should do in the days prior to the race in addition to what needs to be done on the day of a race.

This scope will focus primarily on what needs to be accomplished the week prior to the race.  According to most training schedules, the week leading up to the race should be set as a “cool down” week to prepare the muscles for the task at hand.  To achieve the best results, continue running on a daily basis, but for accumulating less distance as the week progresses.  This will conserve energy for race day and better prepare the legs for tackling that goal.  As for dietary progression, be sure to eat three healthy meals per day to regain strength for each run.  Finally, and most importantly, make sure you hydrate twice as much as you think you need.  The body drains water more than people realize.  By hydrating, you keep the muscles in great working order and prevent cramping up in-between runs.

The night before the race, first and foremost, one must get a good night’s sleep.  This doesn’t mean sleep for twelve hours, but it also doesn’t mean sleep for four either.  You know your own body better than anyone, so make sure you get sufficient sleep to feel energized for the race the next day.  Additionally, drink a full bottle of water right before you go to sleep.  This will keep water running through your system while you sleep and allow you to wake feeling more energized.

The morning of the race, there are a few tips that will help with maximizing your results:

  • Slowly sip water throughout the morning leading up to the race
  • Be sure to use the restroom before the race starts. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of the race and you need to use the restroom.
  • Eat a small HEALTHY snack before you start.
  • Stretch out the muscles prior to the run
  • Go on a warm-up run to get your body and mind ready. (this may seem counterproductive, but it really helps get your legs moving especially in colder weather)
  • Do not line up outpacing yourself. You know your limits and capabilities and the last thing you want is to be tired after the first mile.

 

I hope my tips have helped everyone plan out how to train for a competitive race.  Always remember to never give up on your training and give it your all on race day!  I will see you on the course!

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Hills, Breathing, and Music

This fourth blog post will consist of three separate aspects of a training regimen that will help an active trainee go about creating a healthy training program.  In this session, I will cover three components of the training/ running process that most people overlook while running.  I will first cover some tips when encountering hills during the run, followed by tips on breathing during long-distance runs, concluding with what type of music one should listen to while running.

During a rather lengthy run, have you ever encountered a rather lengthy hill approximately a half mile away and purposefully avoided it?  I’m here to tell you to take on that hill with confidence.  The following list may help you with the next hill that you encounter:

  1. When running uphill, look down at your feet. This will help with the psychological factor of taking on a steep hill to provide confidence going forward.  Make sure you still know the direction you have to run, but keep your head down, and take on that hill.
  2. When running downhill, make sure you pace yourself. It is easy to forget that you are running faster than the pace time that is set.  This will preserve energy and keep you relaxed coming out of the hill.
  3. Tackle as many hills as you can. This will help with leg strength and keep you on your feet on race day.

Breathing may become difficult coming in and out of large hills.  This short excerpt will explain a few healthy tips on how to maintain healthy breathing.  The most important aspect to breathing (aside from forgetting to breath in general) is to create a rhythm for your breathing that corresponds with how you run. This will help with reducing chest pains from over-breathing and will provide a healthier endurance. Aside from this, if you are experiencing chest/lung pains from lack of air, take five to ten seconds to quickly recover.  No run is worth passing or blacking out over lack of proper air intake.  Stay health conscious out there!

Finally, one of my favorite components to running is finding a great playlist to listen to while on the run.  The one main tip I can give you, is regardless of the genre of the music that you enjoy listening to, is to find an up-beat playlist that allows you to pace yourself.  Using the music to pace your footsteps can be a crucial aspect to maintaining a constant flow of breathing to movement.  As mentioned, it doesn’t matter what genre you listen to, as long as you are comfortable while running.

Mentally Preparing and Maintaining a Healthy Diet for a Race

Training on a daily/weekly basis can be a routine for some, but an uphill battle for most.  As mentioned in my previous blog posts, there is a lot more that goes into training for a competitive race than just running two miles every day from now until race day.  In this particular blog post, I will discuss a few tips that may help you mentally prepare for a weekly workout, as well as what an individual training for a race should do in the closing weeks to get the best out of their run.  Additionally, I will talk about some dietary tips that can help get through the fourth, fifth, and sixth miles.

There are a few mental routines that I do on a weekly basis to help prepare for a long distance race.  The following list will help with keeping in the right mindset for competition.

  1. If you are planning on working on a daily basis, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep. This will not only keep the body refreshed, but will provide a healthy mindset while working out.
  2. Take a bath once a week instead of showering. This will give you time to unwind and provide a comfortable setting to get away from outside distractions.
  3. Read a book or magazine during downtime. This will keep your mind sharp and focused.
  4. Watch healthy competition. Find a sport that you can enjoy watching to create a competitive mindset.
  5. Drink plenty of fluids outside of the workout. The body becomes drained, especially outside of the workout, so staying hydrated is imperative to keeping a mental mind sharp.

Touching on that last point from the previous list, there are a lot of dietary guidelines that one should follow in preparation for a big race. Since there is a lot of research that is out on this topic, feel free to do personal research to fit the training schedule.  Two tips that have worked well for me is that I have drank at least one gallon of water per day, and limit my carbohydrate intake to only one meal per day.  Additionally, eat a good meal after your workout to recuperate the calories lost in workout.  As mentioned, there are a lot of dietary tips out on the internet, so make sure an appropriate diet is chosen.

Good luck with the next few weeks of working out!

Performing a Consistent Workout

Has everyone’s initial workouts been successful?  I certainly hope that all of my readers are in the full swing of their workout routines because this second blog post that I have to share will provide information as to how to go about actively performing a consistent workout on a weekly basis.  Additionally, I will provide tips on cross-training techniques and how to execute an effective daily workout to maximize individual potential.  Following the information and recommendations that I am to provide, I will provide some active tips for everyone to follow on their workouts going forward.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining how to structure your training schedule.  The first aspect that one should consider is: How long is the race that you are training for?  Answering this simple question will not only set the foundation for the intensity of the daily workouts, but will also control the length of the training schedule.  A basic rule of thumb when testing the length of a training schedule is by is by multiplying the length of the race (in miles) by anywhere from 10-20 hours of training.  For example, if one is training for a 13.1 mile race—half marathon—then one would put in approximately 131-262 hours of training to prepare for race day.  To benchmark, my training schedule for the half marathon that I am training for will have approximately 144 hours in (12 weeks-12 hours per week).

After understanding the length of the workout, one has to look into the types of activity that needs to go into training.  Training for a race is much more than simply running five miles per day and saying that one is ready to race on race day.  A lot of cross training and additional workout styles must be implemented to prepare adequately for the race.  The following list is what a typical workout week may look like for my training schedule:

  • Monday
    • 2 mile run, cross-train abs
  • Tuesday
    • 3 mile run, cross train swim (1,000 yards or 40 lengths)
  • Wednesday
    • 4 mile run, cross-train legs
  • Thursday
    • 4 mile run, cross-train shoulders/back/arms/chest
  • Friday
    • 3 mile run, cross-train abs, cross-train swim (1,000 yards or 40 lengths)
  • Saturday
    • 6-9 mile run (early in training schedule) or 10-13 mile run (late in training schedule)
  • Sunday
    • Rest day

Of course, this is just a template as to one aspect for training for a race.  Typical race schedules can also be found elsewhere on the web; however, most look similar to this and provide an excellent, consistent workout to adequately prepare.

One final tip that I have while preparing for race day is DO NOT lie to yourself, or others, on what you have all done to prepare.  This will only hurt you on race day and may make you miss goals set out in your initial workout stage.  Additionally, once you have a workout schedule set for yourself; please do your best to stick to the schedule.  If you happen to miss a day, make up for it by doing an extra workout or two the following day.  This will keep you on track to performing well on race day.

Run
Photo by Daniel Fuller

Tracking my Training:Beginning Training

This initial blog post will be about what an individual should do prior to the beginning of their training for any sort of running race.  There is a lot of mental and physical preparation that goes into racing competitively; however, there is a lot of prep-work that goes into beginning your training.  When I am planning on training for a race there are a few questions that I need to ask myself to get started:

  1. How long is the race that you are training for? (i.e. 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon)
  2. What goals do you have set for yourself?
    1. What would you like your average mile to be?
    2. What would you like your finish time to be?
    3. What pacer marker would you like to start at?
    4. What place would you like to finish in?
  3. How long do you need to prepare for the race based on those goals?
  4. What diet are you looking to have while training?

Although these are only a few of the questions that I ask myself before training for any race, they are important to understand going into training for any length.  To understand how long the training needs to be and what goals need to be set, I would recommend doing some research on what average times may look like for first time racers.  This will help you set goals that can be obtainable by you and will give you a positive running experience.

To begin training, one simply cannot begin running three to four miles.  The following list are recommendations as to how to begin your training:

  1. Create a consistent workout schedule and FOLLOW IT.
  2. Stretch before each training session.
  3. Have a mix of running and cross training to increase endurance and physical ability.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids prior to, and throughout the workout.
  5. Eat small before and large after. (Have a good snack prior to your workout and eat a larger meal after to gain back lost calories.
  6. Pace yourself to your goals. (Do not rush your training).

I hope that some of these tips are helpful for preparing to train for a race.  In my next blog post, I will update you on what I have done over the past few weeks to train for my marathon that I am running in June and give more helpful tips to better your training.