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Friday, June 8, 2012

Fitness: Training for a Race

I used to run track in middle school and high school but was never too serious about it. I could have trained a lot harder and would have been a much better runner ... but it came naturally to me and I didn't feel like putting in more effort.

Fast forward to now. I'm signing up for multiple races a year - for fun. Yes, it sounds like I went from one extreme to another and I guess you can say I did. What changed? Well after high school fitness was still a huge part of my life. I worked out about 4-5 days a week and did various forms of exercise and still ran about once or twice a week. Then, I met my fiancé and everything changed. Jay ran competitively in high school, college and still does. He signs up for several races in varying distances and even has completed a marathon and some triathlons. When we first started dating I was really impressed with the fact that he was so active and liked to do this kind of stuff. He encouraged me to sign up for a 5k and it went from there. I found my love for running again and have since competed in several 5ks, a 10k and almost a 10 mile (you can read the story about that race that wasn't on my personal blog - here)

I would ultimately like to run a half and full marathon someday and know that now Jay is in my life and is so supportive and encouraging I can definitely accomplish this.

I've suffered a foot injury while training for my 10k and 10 mile because I was wearing bad shoes, was increasing my mileage too quickly and was also doing jumps and high intensity/ high impact cardio. Not a good combination when training for a race. Luckily the future hubs happens to be a Physical Therapist and he got me back to running shape before I knew it. He also surprised me with some brand new Mizuno running shoes and that really helped me to recover.

When training START SLOW. Haven't run that distance before or it's been a really long time? You need to work your way up. Easy runs and short distances until your body adjusts and you're feeling good. I was running about 4 days a week while training and was doing 3 short days (about 3-4 miles each with some hills and intervals thrown in there) and one long day (increasing by about a mile a week until I reached my race distance). It was the best combination for me to build up slowly and it helped me get faster much quicker.

Stretching before and after your runs is almost just as important as what I stated above. YOU HAVE TO STRETCH. Chances are no matter what you'll be sore if you haven't run this much before, but stretching really helps decrease it. Foam rolling also helps (especially IT bands) and if you have access to one I suggest spending some quality time with it - especially after your longer runs.

Race day tips:

  1. Eat something for breakfast a few hours before your race. You want to make sure it's fully digested before you start so you don't want to throw it up. I usually make oatmeal with a full banana and drink plenty of water about three hours before race time. 
  2. Start out slow. You don't want to use all of your energy in the beginning and die at the end. Finishing strong (and even sprinting) to the finish line is how you want to end your race. If you're at about the halfway mark and feel like you've got a lot of gas in the tank - pick it up a bit. 
  3. Relax your shoulders, look straight ahead and breathe! 
  4. Try to find someone to run with. There are people that can set your pace for you and make it easier to get to the finish line.
  5. Please, don't listen to music while racing. It's not safe (you can't hear other runners or race directors if emergency information is given out) and it could even hurt your performance. Trust me - you don't need it. 
  6. Hydrate before the race (not just race day) it will make your run easier.
  7. Have fun! Training for the race is the hardest part - relax and enjoy it! 
That's what I do to prepare for a race. It may not work for you but it's what I have found to work best for me. Also, having Jay there to cheer me on and help me power through my finish really has helped :) 

Do you have a race day routine that works for you? Have you signed up for any races this season?

1 comment:

  1. These strategies sure have worked for you! You have done so well with your races.