Wow, we are less than 5 weeks from race day 2017. That means we have two long runs left in training before the taper. All your training to this point has you ready to complete these last long tests and will propel you to the finish line on April 29. One of the great things about knowing you have the fitness to complete the mileage is that you can focus on the rest of your race preparations during these final weeks. Practicing everything from your meal the night before, morning routine, race day outfit, shoes, and your in-race nutrition will give you time to adjust anything that doesn’t quite work. The old mantra “nothing new on race day” seems played out, but it’s used so frequently for a reason. Many a race has gone south because runners have decided to try new shoes or the newest gel pack and had it backfire at mile 9. Honestly, the very best thing you can do for yourself now is to go through everything as you would on race week/day as a trial run.
The easiest way to derail a race is to have last night’s dinner catch up with you on course. Avoiding it however is simple, try it now! Pasta dinners are the go to, but may not be right for you. Some may have iron stomachs and can handle non-traditional meals that are spicy or greasy, but most cannot. Generally, you want easily digestible carbs and lean protein the night before a long run or race. My biggest meal is lunch the day before a race, rather than dinner. Dinner for me is just to top off my stores and avoid hunger overnight. Then I focus on getting breakfast in 2-3 hours before the gun goes off, again something with easily digestible and accessible carbs.
In addition to your pre-race meals, you want to start consuming some nutrition during your workouts. If you are going to be running or walking for more than 60 minutes, you’ll need some simple carbohydrates like sports drink or gels on the course. There is a wide spectrum of options however, from all liquid to “real food” like dates or bananas. Gels, chews, chomps, waffles etc. are all good choices but are very different both in how you intake them and how your body may handle them. I know several people who cannot STAND the consistency of gels but will happily chew on a waffle mid-run. Use this weekend’s long run to test one of the options and adjust as necessary. Lots more on eating on the run here.
Gear – clothing, shoes, socks, watches
The post race shower doesn’t lie. No matter how much you might adore that cute purple running skirt and black singlet, if it chafes you the shower will tell all! Better to find out now that something bothers you. You can always add extra Body Glide or go back to your favorite old outfit! This is even more important with your footwear. Obviously, you want your race shoes to have as much life left on them as possible but that does not mean taking them out of the box and immediately racing. Ideally, race shoes should have about 40 miles on them. You want to get a couple shorter workouts in, a long run, and a quality run (speedwork) if you do those. That combination gives you a true feel for the shoes in many situations but still leaves them with plenty of nice cushioning to treat your feet on race day.
Lastly, learn how to use your watch now. Practice, practice, practice with it until you can do it almost without looking. Also, make sure you know where your charger is and do any updates required. If I had a dollar for all the times I hear about a watch causing race day stress, I’d be running in Hawaii by now. Please please learn your watch and take care of it if it is important to you in a race.
Enjoy and Relax
The last month of training is so amazing because you are fit and ready. You are just refining your training to take full advantage of that fitness. Take time to enjoy this month. Look around and take it all in. This journey is yours and every single one is special. It doesn’t matter if this is your first race ever or your 100th; every race season is unique and incredible. The last week will likely be a blur of activity, so enjoy these last several weeks of training! The weather even seems to be cooperating for us too. See you all on April 29th! – Happy Training!
Running is a simple sport at heart. Put one foot in front of the other; repeat. We don’t need special equipment or a specific location. It can be fast or slow. We can run 1 mile or 20. Just grab your running shoes and head out the door. Sure, there are other pieces of gear that may make our runs more fun, enjoyable, or social media worthy but all we really need are our feet and a good pair of shoes. Yes, some run barefoot. I’m not going into that here!
Please, if you take anything away from this training season please make it this: be consistent with your training and run in shoes that are right for you. It is very important to ensure that you are in the right shoe functionally for your foot and gait. The best way to determine your functionality is to get professionally fit at a specialty running store. They should take the time to ask you about your running, any injuries or nagging soreness, measure your feet, and then most importantly evaluate your gait by actually watching you walk and/or run. A good fitter can determine if your gait is neutral, over pronated, or supinated (under pronated). Basically, an over pronater’s ankle wants to roll inward and a supinator runs on the outside of their feet. We can talk more about the details, but even better you can ask next time you are being fit at your local specialty running store!
If you are local to the Columbus area, my favorite (and full disclosure I work part time for) is Fleet Feet/Frontrunner in Polaris, Worthington, or Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington. The most important thing however, is to go to a store that specializes in running/walking and that has good people with experience and knowledge in gait analysis. They will suggest shoes that are right for YOU and your feet.
Shoes are the one NEED we have as runners. The other need for female runners is a good sport bra. Those two things are the foundation of your equipment for our sport. Yes, specialty running shoes and a high quality sport bra will most likely cost more than what you could buy at a big box retailer. The investment should pay dividends in healthier, more comfortable training now and down the road.
You should get 300-400 miles or 6 months from your running shoes. The materials in the shoes that provide the cushioning break down over time and with the pounding from the miles. All miles count. That includes walking around in them so if possible keep them special for your training. Additionally, I like to get a second pair for race day, run about 40 miles on them, then save them for race day.
Enjoy the upcoming warmer weather, grab your new shoes, and head out for a run! Happy Training!
Wow we are 7 weeks from race week! That means we only have a few more long runs left in our training schedules. Our workouts are all important to our fitness, but its the long ones where we really start to understand our progress. Throughout the season, we go from thinking that 13.1 is REALLY far, to wow that’s only 1 more mile than last week! The long runs prepare our bodies and minds for race day. But they can be so much more than that too. Start thinking about your long runs over the next 6 weeks or so as dress rehearsals. They are the events where we can practice what we will put in, on, and around our bodies on race day. Then the endurance athlete’s mantra will become your own “nothing new on race day!”
What to Wear
Figure out now what works and what doesn’t as far as gear goes. I realize that a Saturday in March might call for tights, a hat, and long sleeves while in May you might choose shorts and a singlet. However, try to find a couple long runs to wear what you will on race day, from head to toe. Now is the time to find out that your cute polka dot singlet chafes your arms, NOT at mile 10 on race day. You still have time to sort it out or find a different outfit! Most importantly, figure out your shoes and socks soon. My last post on running shoes and socks discusses how to find your race shoes. The most important thing is to try them out on a long run and make sure they work for you.
What to Eat and Drink
Even more than what you wear on race day, what you choose to put into your body is best determined beforehand. This takes some trial and error for people, so start now. We need to be fueling our bodies throughout the week with high quality nutrition. We need carbohydrates to move (to live really but we’re talking about running here). We’ve all heard about the pre-race pasta parties, but you don’t want to do that for the first time the night before Cap City. Use your long runs to mimic everything you are going to eat and drink starting the day before. Work out what your night before dinner will be, your breakfast, what you carry with you, etc. If you haven’t yet tried consuming Gatorade or a gel like Gu, now is the time to start. It might take a few attempts to figure out what works for you. If you need more information on WHAT to eat and when for long runs, check on my blog from last year on Eating on the Run.
Have a great week, enjoy the sunshine. Happy Training!