I am reposting this from a runner who just rocked her first 15k at Scioto Miles yesterday and has her eye on the Cap City Half prize on May 4th! I just had to share her inspirational blog. Enjoy!
Monthly Archives: April 2013
Race week is here! This is my favorite time of the year, because all YOUR hard work is about to pay off. You are tapering (resting), hydrating, eating well, and planning for race day. We are here to help you along the way. You’ll hear from me a lot in the next couple days. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Ask Coach Aimee section of the Cap City Facebook page.
Last year I wrote a long piece all about tapering. Instead of trying to do it again using different words, I reposted it here. I do however want to hit on a couple things about this week and the most important of them is to rest and treat yourself well.
During the taper – when in doubt sit it out
That corny slogan goes for pretty much anything that seems like it could make you more tired or add to your stress this week. If you feel like something is off or hurting you a bit, don’t run. Your job for this week is to rest, refuel, and reload all your carbohydrate stores so that you are ready for Saturday. Don’t go on a big hike on Tuesday just because the weather is amazing (which it will be). Try to avoid eating something brand new this week. If you are feeling tired or stressed, get to bed a little early. Now is not the time for extra training or a new activity. Wait until next week to try something new!
So far the weather looks like it might be wet, but you never know in Ohio. It may change 5 times between now and Saturday morning. Either way, you cannot control it. You can however control how you prepare for race day. Make sure you are hydrating properly. Drink your water throughout the week, making sure you are fully hydrated (but not overly so). On Friday, you can even drink a sports drink if your stomach is used to it so that you are making sure get electrolytes and some carbs with your fluids. Avoid alcohol and too much coffee/soda on Thursday or Friday. If you normally have a cup of coffee every morning, that’s fine, but don’t be getting an extra tall grande super caf caramel whoosiwhat on the way to the expo Friday night. You can have that after the race!
Coach Julie wrote a nice piece about nutrition last week, check it out here.
I am not a huge believer in the tradition of carb deplete/load (which is a cut in carbs early in the week and then a short blast of them on the day or two before an event). It might work on a cellular level, but what you don’t know unless you’ve done that before is how your gut will respond. My take is to simply eat well balanced meals, avoid junk carbs (donuts, white bread, fried stuff, etc) throughout the week. On Friday make sure you get most of your calories from good carbohydrates as well as lean protein. All of the pre-race meals should have been practiced during your training so that you know what your tummy will handle, or more importantly will NOT handle. My go to pre-race dinner is plain whole wheat or quinoa pasta or rice, with a little olive oil and a dash of parmesan cheese. Sometimes a little grilled chicken. This ALWAYS works for me. It’s boring but it’s only one day and I know it works. If I deviate from that, sometimes I regret it! Whatever has been working for you the night before your long run, do that this Friday.
The work is over, you can trust in that and know that you will see that finish line on Saturday. I love mantras and Robb Kestner, the Columbus Marathon winner in 2007 always has fantastic ones. I have made two of them my own. First, I never say to someone “Good luck at your race” because it is not about luck it is about training so we say “Trust Your Fitness.” The second, Robb-ism that I love is that now in taper time and especially on race week “The hay is in the barn.” That means you’ve put in the hard work and have been stocking up your fitness for race day. Saturday is the day to cash in on that fitness and celebrate how far you have come!
Enjoy race week! I can’t wait to see you all at the expo and at the finish!
You are officially in the taper period of half marathon training! Yay, congrats and great work! I will not sit here and lie to you all. The taper is my absolute LEAST favorite time of any training season. In fact, I hate it. There’s not much that I hate, but I hate tapering. It may seem counter-intuitive if this is your first endurance event, because we’ve been waiting for the time we can rest, but believe me it can be a tough time mentally for some myself included. Understand that this too is a very important part of your training, just like all of the hard miles you’ve logged and the good nutrition habits you’ve started. The body needs this time so that it can perform at its best come race day. If done well, the taper gives you that edge that you need to race! You want to be completely rested and recovered going into your race, with no lingering aches and pains from training. Keep calm and hopefully YOU can enjoy the taper!
What is the Taper?
Tapering is as much an art as a science. The goal is to completely recover from all the hard weeks and months of work that you have put in during your training. It is time for the body to completely rebuild and replenish all of its systems, repair any lingering damage, and eliminate any built up fatigue. In a half marathon program, this occurs about 2 weeks out from the race day. We will cut the volume of the workload back down (i.e. the miles) but keep some of the intensity. Note that I said “keep” not “start.” If you’ve been doing speed work of some type: pace runs, tempo runs, etc., you will still do them but at a much shorter distance than previously. You will NOT add speed work now if you have not been doing it throughout and you will NOT increase the intensity. If you have been doing some speed, you want to do it still but in a much reduced volume. The goal is just to keep the snap in the legs and keep them used to the fast turnover. If you have not been doing speed and have no idea what a pace or tempo run is, don’t worry now is definitely not the time to start.
The taper is used to get an athlete to “peak.” You have probably heard this term for track athletes and for swimmers. Swimmers will often train hard up to and including their early championships. They will only rest, or taper, before their main goal event. That causes them to peak physically for that training cycle and their best times of the season come right after that taper period. They are like fine tuned machines all tuned up and ready for race day. That is us now too. Only with rest comes that peak. Some say that they’ve peaked too early and their best times come before their goal race. If you’ve followed an appropriate training schedule and done the work, taper appropriately, and that should lead to you peaking on race week.
Cut the volume of your runs. If you are following my plan on the Cap City Half Marathon site or almost any good training program, you will notice that after your last long run your total weekly miles will drop, your long run mileage will drop, and most of your week day miles will drop. This is the idea. You are still running some, you don’t want to stop completely but you are running less.
My Favorite Mantra – Nothing New on Race Day!
Again, I say it! In this case, it means no new running stuff. Don’t go out and try the best new training plan that the running magazine is touting (until after the race). Like I said before, don’t start speed work if you haven’t been doing it all along. No new shoes, no attempts at barefoot running, don’t go running on the sand in the beach in Jamaica (I’m still recovering from doing that – but I’m not racing in this week!). Nothing new . ALSO … now is not the time to try Cross Fit or Zumba, as great as they are and no matter how badly you want to try them. Don’t hit the weights at the gym if you haven’t been doing it all season. We want to recover fully not put our bodies through new stresses from which they need to recover further. This may seem obvious, but things that are physically stressful are not to be started right now! This includes activities like roofing your house, pulling out old landscaping and mulching your yard, hiking with your best 4-legged buddy. I’m not calling anyone out specifically, but these are real examples (well one of them is) from my favorite running partner of all time – you know who you are!
Aches and Pains
Part of the madness of the taper comes from these strange aches and pains that always seem to crop up during this time. Do not worry, most of these are normal. If something hurts or even feels off, TAKE THE DAY OFF. Don’t run. Just relax and get extra rest. If it still bugs you the next day or so, get in touch with your favorite sports med doc. Most of these aches and pains are your body’s way of rebuilding itself and some of them are in our heads, but not all. If it doesn’t get better with a couple days of rest, see your doctor. Also, stay away from people with obvious illnesses. After long runs, over about 1.5-2 hours our immune systems are a bit compromised. Maybe postpone the outing to the ultra-huge screen cinema until after the race. You want to do the normal things to prevent colds and such during this time: eat well, get good quality sleep, wash your hands, stay away from people who are sick.
Running More in the Taper Won’t Help but it Can Hurt
Can’t decide if you feel something odd in your foot? Don’t run today. Take the day off. If you’re feeling a little bit tired from yesterday’s long meeting with the boss, take the day off.
To be blunt, at this point in the training either you’ve put in the work or you haven’t. You cannot cram 16 weeks of training into the last week. Physiologically, you are not doing anything good for yourself by running more than the schedule calls for in this time frame. The adaptations necessary to get you to the finish line occurred during that 16 week time frame, not this last one. By running more now, we would only be tiring ourselves out and setting ourselves up for an unhappy day. If you have done the work, YOU ARE READY. Believe that. Your body is used to the work-recovery cycle that we have been asking of it these last 15 or so weeks. It knows what to do and your systems are in place now to make it happen. Taking an extra rest day here or there can only help you now. Make sure that you are resting and letting your body recover fully!
Believe me, I understand that you don’t want to skip a run. Runners have the reputation among other endurance athletes as being crazy obsessive type A personalities. I battle this stereotype all the time, but sometimes I am the perfect example of that exact thing – crazy and obsessive. The issue is that we love what we do. It has become our outlet, our stress relief, therapy, and go to “me time” of the day. After a run, our heads are clear and our bodies are pumped. Now I’m asking you to NOT do the thing that takes away the stress and for some that causes MORE stress! Don’t worry, no matter what your brain is telling you one or two extra days of rest are not going to make you instantly gain weight. You won’t immediately lose all the fitness gains you’ve worked so hard for these last few months, in fact you will be stronger for the time off. You won’t forget how to run fast. You may in fact gain a couple pounds over the next week or so, no big deal. It is most likely water as we tend to be dehydrating ourselves over the training cycle. It will all come back off come race day.
Strategies for dealing with taper madness are many. My favorite strategy is to take the time that you would normally be running and spend it with your support crew. Thank them for giving you that extra hour without the kids or for making dinner a couple nights a week, so you can run. Take them out to dinner. Remember what your wife looks like or what your husband’s favorite beer is and enjoy the time together. Sit on the sidelines at your daughter’s soccer practice instead of doing laps around the fields. Go out with the girls or the guys for a drink (but only one). Enjoy this time with them, thank them for listening to your stories of this mile or that. Talk with them about something other than running shoes and the miraculous powers of Body Glide.
Enjoy the taper. You’ve earned it. I am so proud of all of you and cannot wait to meet you on race week. I want to take this time to thank all of you for allowing me the privilege of working with you these last few months. I love going to random places and hearing from people “I am training for my first half marathon at Cap City!” It’s happened so many times: at Benny’s in Marysville, at Nurtur Salon, at the airport, at the post office. Amazing. Thank you all so much. Congrats on putting in the tough work. Rest up and recover well.
As always, email me if you have any questions. I can’t wait to see you all on May 4h!
Can you believe we are almost here? A little over a week to go! The Cap City Staff is excited to see each and every one of you cross the finish line on Saturday, May 4th!
Many of you have been writing to me to ask what last week preparations should include. I have an unofficial list of things that I recommend you consider as you are getting ready for the big day. Please keep in mind that every BODY is different and you will need to modify or select the appropriate preparations according to your medical history, needs, preferences and goals.
1.) Sleep! Your muscles (and brain) love sleep time because it is the only true time they are in an absolute healing mode. We need to make sure we get plenty of sleep the week of the race, not only for your energy levels throughout the race, but to provide your muscles the opportunity to be at their best on game day. Proper sleep times vary person-by-person but it tends to trends between 6-9 hours a night. The night of the race, expect that you may be restless with excitement! So make sure you surround yourself with quiet, dark, cool environment.
2.) Water! Drink water throughout the day, every day. Hydrating well is something we should do all of the time, but especially true as we are preparing for a big energy day. You need to drink throughout the day, don’t try to ‘down it’ all at once – that can be dangerous and isn’t effective at hydration. Your body can only absorb so much water at a time. The American College of Sports Medicine has a nice write-up that I will point you to for more specific hydration recommendations: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf
3.) Nutrition! There are a lot of different theories, studies and traditions about what to eat and when as you prepare for the big day. In general, consider the week up to your big day as a time to fuel your body – consider it prep time. Everything matters. As the week of your event begins, ensure you are taking in some extra calories each day. Make sure you are getting a good mix of carbs and proteins. As your meals increase, your protein levels should also. Carbs help fuel the muscles; the protein helps them to rebuild. Both are essential for performance and endurance. As far as the night before, the “Journal of American Dietetics Association” (2009) says that foods consumed before exercise should be low in fat and protein; and high in carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores and maintain blood glucose. In addition, avoid high-fiber products to prevent gastrointestinal distress. A tradition is to have a pasta meal on Friday night.
4.) Exercise. You will not improve your race time or endurance by training heavy the week of your race. In fact, you should have tapered off to just gentle runs or walks, a few miles, every two-three days, to keep the circulation strong, stretch the muscles and stimulate your systems. We do not want to break down muscle this week – we want it to build, heal and be healthy. The day before the race should be a complete rest day.
While these tips are general and need to be adapted to your specific needs, interests, and goals, they should provide you a few guiding points behind getting ready for your awesome big day! Here’s to celebrating your health, here’s to your incredible journey, and here’s to crossing that finish line!
The events of this week have challenged us to the core, but runners are strong. Americans all over are coming together in support of those affected by all of the tragedies of this week. Runners are more determined than ever to take back their streets, alleys, trails, and woods to keep moving forward for themselves and for those who can no longer. I’ll be honest that I struggled with how best to “coach” this week, both knowing that there is information to share but not wanting to say the wrong thing. In the end, I know that I personally have decided to run and keep running; race and keep racing as a show of strength and solidarity. So with a heavy heart and tear stained cheeks, but also full of hope and amazement of our wonderful running family I send you this information. We still run, a lot, and we need to fuel our bodies and keep them strong. We are running together and we are strong. I cannot wait to celebrate you and our collective strength on May 4.
What should I drink for 13.1 miles
Your body really likes balance. It wants and needs water but it also needs the other stuff that comes out when you sweat, which are electrolytes (mostly salt NaCl). The question of how much to drink and what exactly to drink has been going round and round in the running community for several years. Since I cannot do this topic justice I’ve asked Professor Steven Devor at Ohio State Exercise Physiology to help. Below is a great discussion from Professor Devor about hydrating the proper way, which is to be very specific to EACH one of YOU. Hydration is not a one size fits all thing and he gives a really easy way to figure out how much you need to put in to keep up with what is going out when you run. Thanks so much to Dr. Devor for this awesome message about hydration.
Can you Drink Too Much? In Short – Yes
If you want to be successful and complete longer training sessions and races you must avoid or delay dehydration caused by fluid losses from the body. Fluids are primarily lost through sweating, breathing and using the toilet. Years ago the advice was “drink, drink, drink,” and we assumed there was no downside to consuming as much fluid as possible. Unfortunately, consuming large amounts of water without electrolytes can lead to a condition called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia, also known as low sodium concentration or water intoxication, occurs due to prolonged sweating coupled with the dilution of extracellular sodium caused by consuming large amounts of fluid with low or no sodium.
Balance is Key
Sodium, chloride and potassium are electrolytes, and these electrolytes remain dissolved in the body fluids as electrically charged particles called ions. Electrolytes help to modulate fluid exchanges between the different body fluid compartments and promote the exchange of nutrients and waste products between cells and the external fluid environment. There is actually an electrical gradient across cell membranes. The difference in the electrical balance between the interior and exterior of cells facilitates nerve-impulse transmission, stimulation and action of skeletal muscles during running and other activities, and proper gland functioning. If you consume too much water and not enough electrolytes, your body pulls electrolytes from its cells in order to create the right balance for absorption. If you consume too many electrolytes and not enough fluid, your body pulls fluids from within to create the right balance for absorption. The bottom line is your body likes balance. Keeping your body in electrolyte and water balance, or very close to balanced, is part of the challenge as an endurance athlete.
The easiest way to measure your sweat rate is to weigh yourself without clothes on before you do a one hour exercise session. After the hour session, return home, strip down, wipe of any excess sweat from your skin, and weigh yourself again. Assuming you did not use the toilet or consume any fluids during exercise, your weight loss is your sweat rate. For each kilogram of lost weight, you lost one liter of fluid. To convert it to pounds, for each pound lost, you lost 15.4 oz. of fluid. If you drink any fluids or used the rest room between the two weight samples, you will need to include both of these estimated weights in your calculations. Add fluid consumed to the amount of weight lost. Subtract estimated bodily void weight from the total weight lost. I would be sure to record the heat and humidity conditions in your sweat test. Repeat the test in cool and hot conditions. If you are a triathlete, repeat the test for swimming, running and cycling because sweat rates will vary for each sport and vary with environmental conditions.
Through the years I have been able to come up with the following guidelines based on weight and different environmental temperatures. They are only guidelines, so it would still still be best to do the individual tests in a lab. None the less, I believe these are good averages.
Weight 100 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 3.0 60°F: 3.2 70°F: 3.3 80°F: 3.6 90°F: 4.1 100°F: 4.7
Weight 120 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 3.6 60°F: 3.8 70°F: 4.0 80°F: 4.3 90°F: 4.9 100°F: 5.6
Weight 140 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 4.2 60°F: 4.4 70°F: 4.6 80°F: 5.0 90°F: 5.7 100°F: 6.5
Weight 160 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 4.8 60°F: 5.0 70°F: 5.3 80°F: 5.8 90°F: 6.5 100°F: 7.4
Weight 180 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 5.4 60°F: 5.7 70°F: 5.9 80°F: 6.5 90°F: 7.3 100°F: 8.4
Weight 200 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 6.0 60°F: 6.3 70°F: 6.6 80°F: 7.2 90°F: 8.1 100°F: 9.3
Weight 220 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 6.6 60°F: 6.9 70°F: 7.3 80°F: 7.9 90°F: 8.9 100°F: 10.2
Weight 240 pounds
Fluid Ounces Per Mile Depending On The Temperature: 50°F: 7.2 60°F: 7.6 70°F: 7.9 80°F: 8.6 90°F: 9.7 100°F: 11.2W
I’m at a loss for words. There are so many, yet none of them seem right. Every possible emotion has flowed in the last 24 hours. The joy of tracking my friends simply chasing their dream, gave way to disbelief, anger, sorrow, and now resolve. I got word by email from my brother Andrew who is a former Boston Univ student and who cheered me on up Heartbreak Hill in 2009. My stomach just dropped and I sprinted from my lab at OSU to find my phone. My friends were there. My coaching partner with MIT was there, as were so many athletes with whom we spend every Saturday morning. Thank God for their safety and all the others from Columbus who are ok and for social media as well for allowing us to check in on them so quickly. My heart simply aches for those who were injured or lost their lives. I cannot fathom the heartache of the poor papa who lost his little boy and who’s wife and daughter are still injured. All they were doing was waiting for him to finish his race. There are no words.
I don’t have any answers, no advice but I do have hope. One of the students at my lab, a marathoner himself ironically, asked me “what could possibly be gained by this?” All I could tell him was that since we do not have evil in our hearts we will never be able to understand these things. I still want to know why, but I know we may never find that answer. Hope comes from the fact that the running community is an overwhelmingly positive one. We are individuals in a solo sport, but we are never alone. Unless your name is Kara, Shalane, Ryan, Meb, or Abdi you will probably not be winning a major marathon. However, none of that matters. Not now, not during a race when someone passes you and you give them a “good job” and not when someone picks you up when you are struggling at the end of 26 miles. We as a group are helpers, we are joiners, and we are part of something bigger than ourselves. I am so proud to be one of you.
We all want to help, but there’s not a lot we can do right now. One thing we can do is stand together and show our support. I for one refuse to be afraid. So I will run. I will pray, a lot, but then I will run. I do not know what else to do. So many of us do this for the love and today we have the chance to show the world a little thing or two about runners. We are strong, we are bound together, and we will not be afraid. The movement starts with us, log some miles for Boston. I will be at Fleet Feet in Lewis Center with an ever growing group at 6pm tonight, all are welcome. In the words of Jeff Henderson from Fleet Feet “Be Strong For Boston.” See you on the trail.
It’s race week in Boston and Athens, Ohio but not quite yet in Columbus. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year and has been since I decided to become an endurance athlete. I love watching Boston, computer stalking my friends as they make their way from Hopkinton on down to Boylston Street, crossing the storied finish line with my favorite running buddy Coach Teri, and even got engaged after finishing my first Boston Marathon. As much love as I have for the Patriot’s Day celebration, it makes it tough for the rest of us. We are still training. We still have long runs left to go. We are thrilled that race day is here for so many our friends, but we remember that we have work left to do. Its tough. We want to be tapering or getting ready for race day. Quite frankly we are jealous that they get to race and we still are training!
Run for The Fun of It
Throw your Garmin in a bag and put your watch in a drawer, maybe even (gasp) put your headphones away. Go out for a run because you want to not because the schedule says you should. Do not worry about the pace or the distance, simply run or walk to the beat that your body sets. Look around, feel the wind at your back, enjoy the smell of all the spring time blooming trees, taste the rain if you get caught in an April storm. Remember why you started to run or walk in the first place. Each one of you has a reason for embarking on this journey to 13.1 or maybe even 26.2 miles. That is what will get you out the door for the next 3 weeks.
Where You are Now
Remember how that first couple weeks of training felt? That how could I possibly run 3 miles let alone 13.1 feeling? Your training has made that feeling a thing of the past. Now a 3 mile day is an easy one and if we decided to create chaos and ask you to run the half or quarter tomorrow – you could. Shocked? You shouldn’t be, your bodies are ready to do the job because you have been true to your training. The next few weeks are important but only in that we don’t want you to rest too early and “peak” before race day. You are already endurance athletes, now is just the time to sharpen the blade and make sure it is ready to strike on May 4.
You have changed, for the better. You have smashed boundaries that you had set in your mind. They no longer exist. You ran through snow, ice, treadmill torture, alone, with friends, stressed, calm, even in an 83 degree day in April! You got out of bed at 4am so the family could stay asleep while you trained or you went out at 11pm because that’s when you got home from a work trip. You did this, you are doing this, and you WILL celebrate your success on May 4th!
Best Wishes to All Boston and Athens Runners
Although we are jealous that you get to race 3 weeks before we do, we wish you all the best! You put in the work and you are reaping the rewards. Enjoy. We look forward to your stories and photos next week. All we ask is that you come back to Columbus and cheer on the Cap City Runners on the first Saturday in May!
p.s. Much love to all you half and full marathoners from all the local training groups who have races this weekend. I know there are too many to name, but you know who you are and we are with you in spirit. Rock those races!
Thanks to the blogger I stole the picture from (can’t find my own right now…). http://hikeclimbsurfrun.com/tag/boston-marathon/
Over the past few weeks, I have received numerous emails, asking me about proper care and treatment for small and large injuries.
Many have written, saying they have a pulled muscle and wonder how many days they need to take off before returning to their program. Others have written, saying they have greater injuries and want to know how to ‘get through’ the half marathon.
First and foremost (you know I am going to say this)- if any injury persists for more than a couple of days, you really need to have a doctor take a look at it. So often, as individuals who are training for something, we have a very strong ability to mask pain, or even hide it when producing endorphins. We feel something doesn’t seem quite right, but it isn’t horrible, so we just continue on as-is…
Any time your body doesn’t feel right – whether it is an ache, pain, soreness, swelling, headache – anything – it is your body’s way of communicating with you that you need to slow down and take care of it.
If you do not slow down and take care of it – what was a small, very recoverable injury can become a much larger, possibly non-recoverable injury.
One person wrote me that she had a pulled quad muscle and took a few days off and thought it felt better so she wanted to know if it was ok to get her long run in.
While every body is different – I can assure you that the day your body feels better is not the day that it is healed. If you have a pulled muscle or other acute injury, you need to take some downtime, heal it with massage, good nutrition (Protein, fruits, vegetables), water, stretching, foam roller, sleep and low stress. (or whatever the best way to treat your injury is). Once it starts feeling better, I’d advise to still give it at least a few days. Perhaps take a few slow, small runs but remember that just because it feels better doesn’t mean it is.
Consider when a boat gets a crack in it and someone fills that crack with sealant. Despite the fact that in a few hours it appears dry, they advise to wait several days for the sealant to set. You wouldn’t dare take your boat out that day, even if the sealant looks dry on the outside, would you? It’s the same concept here. It takes longer to heal on the inner most part of the muscle and cellular level – so be gentle, be kind and take care of your body, so it can take care of you.
Every injury needs to be treated differently, and each person may have a different approach and timeline to healing, but remember that when something doesn’t feel right – it is your body telling you to slow down and take care of it. I’d rather see you cross the finish line with a slightly slower time than you hoped, than not cross the finish line at all – so take care of your body and listen to it!
Often dress rehearsals and scrimmages are nerve-wracking, but then the big show or game seems to come naturally. At first glance, it doesn’t make sense but think about it for a few minutes and you’ll realize that it is because of those practice runs that the main event was so smooth. Dress rehearsals and scrimmages share a lot of themes: participants are nervous, others are scrutinizing their every move, the clothing is new and not worn in yet, there are stops and starts, mistakes are corrected. The kinks are worked out, problems are corrected so that when the real thing comes the players know what to do. Something else happens too, players realize that small mistakes won’t ruin their day and they learn how to adapt and move on. Game day and show time come naturally because the players’ bodies and minds have been through it all before, when it didn’t mean as much to them. Running is really no different. We call our practices, training runs, but because our sport is so physiologically driven we can’t simply go out and run a half or quarter marathon three days in a row and then go do the race! We’d be completely wiped out. That doesn’t mean however that runners can’t benefit from a practice race or a “lead up race” as many call them. We can learn invaluable information about ourselves, our fitness, dealing with crowds, and so much more by putting ourselves in the race conditions. It also helps to calm our nerves come race day because we have been there before! Scioto Miles training series was developed precisely for this reason; to give athletes a chance to run a race in the spring before the “big” races hit. There are 5, 10, and 15k distances so everyone should be able to find a happy distance to race.
Lead up Race Goals
Lead up races are meant to be practice runs. They are not the main event and should be approached as such. You are there to get something out of it and what that is exactly only you can determine. Many times just the simple practice of running with hundreds or thousands of others can be challenging and it is nice to have done it in a practice race so you don’t panic come race day. Race strategy can be practiced too, for example if you want to run negative splits (i.e. running the first half slower than the second half of a race) now is the time to practice that. Running specifics like your race outfit, shoes, pre-race meal, in-race nutrition, whether you want to run with a pace group are all important and you can try something new out in a lead up race. If it works, great, you’ve got your plan for race day. If not, you still have time to adjust. Even practical logistics such as how early you want to be before the gun goes off, where to park, how much to cool down, etc are important to work out now. If you are trying to determine what pace you should be running the half or quarter, you can even figure that out in a lead up race (if you need help you can ask me).
Distance and Pace for a Lead Up Race
This question always comes up and can be controversial. My answer goes back to your “why” for doing this lead up race. If it is a practice of the logistics of race day and only that, then you can run a 15k 3-6 weeks,out for a half marathon and a 5 to 10k for a quarter but DO NOT RUN IT FAST. This, not coincidentally, matches up with this weekend’s Scioto Miles. You are still in training and if your goal is to practice your race day logistics, then you want to run the same pace you are doing your long runs. Running a lead up race that is too long or too fast can actually hurt you on race day because you have fatigued yourself. Once you figure out your goal for the race, be disciplined and don’t get sucked into racing your buddy. You don’t know what her “why” is for the day!
First Timers and Anyone Who Simply Wants a Practice Run
My suggestion for first timers at the quarter is to run the 10k but run it at or slower than your normal training pace. 6 miles is the distance on your schedule this week anyway. You are only trying to practice things like drinking on the run and which shoes work, you are not trying to run your race in your lead up! For first time half marathoners, same applies but for the 15k. Run the 15k, instead of the 10 miles I have on your schedule (believe me it is close enough, but if you want you can do the extra .7miles as a cool down jog!).
If you are NOT running the half or quarter for the first time, then you can run the Scioto Miles race as a pace predictor. For half marathoners, you will want to run the 15k. Go through this race day as you will on Cap City, same food, clothes, and preparation in the morning. You can approach the race itself in a couple different ways. For best pace prediction, you’ll want to give it a hard effort. You don’t want to be struggling to cross the finish line, but you want to feel like you would not have wanted to run much more at that pace. If that’s the case, you can best predict your half marathon pace for Cap City. For quarter marathoners, run the 5k at a hard effort. Same applies for you, don’t be passing out at the finish line but feel like running another mile would have been tough at that pace. There are numerous pace predictor tools out there if you google “pace calculator.” I have one that is a combination of several, so if you want help with this feel free to email me your times and we can figure it out together.
Another approach is to take the first couple miles easy as a warm up and then start to hit your planned race pace for Cap City. If you are doing this, your goal isn’t to run your fastest ever 5, 10, or 15k time, but to consistently hit your quarter or half marathon pace. If you take this approach quarter marathoners can run the 10k, but run the first 2-3 easy then try to hit your goal pace for the remainder. For halfers, run the first 3-4 easy then hit your goal pace for the remainder. You’ll get a good feel for the pace and how comfortable you are holding it.
The most important part of a lead up race is to make sure you are fully recovered from it AFTER the race. If you simply ran it at training pace you can probably continue on with your normal schedule, but be aware of your body. If you feel especially tired, take an extra day off. If you ran it at a hard effort, then you’ll want to take the next day off completely or do some very light non-running based active recovery. Take the next several days very light. Don’t do speed work the following week, remember you just did speed work in race form! You want to benefit from the lead up race, not tire yourself out before Cap City! Note that if you are following my schedules on the Cap City website, you will probably need to switch your Saturday and Sunday this week so that the long day falls on race day (Sunday).
The MIT pace team will be out pacing this weekend and since it is a loop course you can come hang out with the pacers no matter which distance you are running. If you are considering running with a pace group for Cap City, try it out this weekend. A note about pacers. We are human. We sometimes run too fast or too slow. Our goal is ALWAYS to get you to the finish line at the time we have on our signs, but just remember the human element. We try very hard to hit the paces as advertised, but it is wise to have your own plan. I personally have run races with outstanding pacers and also some where the first 3 miles of a marathon were a full minute/mile faster than advertised which did NOT work with my race plan. When in doubt ask your pacers and also have your own plan in the back of your mind! The MIT group is awesome and is the same group that will be there on May 4 (though probably not the exact same faces). If you want to run a 9:39 pace this weekend then come join me! I’m pacing the 1:30 15k group and would love to talk with you all and run with you!
Happy Training and as always, email me at CoachAimee@m3ssports.com with any questions