By Jenn Voss, tasc Performance Ambassador
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Whether you are a seasoned runner or preparing to run your first race, I think these tips will help you be better prepared and a little less nervous when you step up to that start line! I haven't found a runner yet who wonders if they have trained enough, put in enough miles to finish strong. This leads right into my first tip:
1 .TRUST YOUR TRAINING
You would not have signed up for the race or picked up that bib packet unless you had planned for it. True, there are some runners who register day of race and that's when you know you’ve built up your own SELF CONFIDENCE. Trusting that you completed the process of following a weekly plan and being honest with yourself of the time you committed to training you should know your game plan. You should know where you struggle and where you are strong and embrace it.
Runners, let's face it...we have a never-give-up type of personality and will sacrifice a lot to stay on track with our training, especially taking the needed REST days for our bodies to recover. Taper week before a big race can drive you nutty, but during this time channel that extra energy into paying attention to your nutrition and of course, tip number two:
2 .GET SLEEP
Sleep is when our bodies repair themselves, Resting can be hard during training and especially night before a race as we anticipate that climatic moment of crossing the finish line. Try to add 30-60 minutes a day of sleep--this may mean a slight shift in your bedtime/wake up times. Even if you add 30 mins of reading in bed, you’ll get to that REM stage of sleep faster and in morning, maybe reading articles on running or a book you will be in a more relaxed stage of mind.
Chances are that when you signed up for a race, you imagined yourself finishing that race, believing that hey, Im ready to take my running to that level. Even more than that, we get butterflies in our stomachs imagining how we will fill when we reach that goal, what an accomplishment it would be if we could DO IT. Therefore, I give you tip number 3:
3 .BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
A little visualization can empower you, move you towards staying positive and when you are out there running and feeling like it's over, like you cannot take another step that's when you remember why you started. Why you signed up, what it means to you to complete this race.
Little did you know, you’ve been preparing for race day since the day you signed up. All of those training runs? Well, you were testing out fuel, what clothes were comfortable, how to battle schaffing, how often do drink water, whether to run with a cap or sunglasses...all of these details have been ironed out but on the night before race day, it comes together in tip number 4:
4. ROUTINE, FUEL and FLAT RUNNER
Here we go, it's a 48 hour countdown to the show, until go-time, until that air horn blows. The week before a race, do not try anything new and keep your cardio to as little as possible to save the wear on your legs. Just because you’re not running, this is not a week to suddenly take up spin (unless it was part of your routine in your training and even then you will do it at a lower intensity). So rely on your normal daily routine: routine of working out, eating same foods, stretching, wake up/sleep times (within 60mins). Fueling for races have always been referred to as carb-loading, based on what you did prior to your longest training run that worked for you, I would definitely increase carbs and go low-fiber so you do not have any GI issues on race day. Remember: stick to the carb-rich foods you’ve been eating all along. For fun and as a “visual” gear check, lots of runners creating a Flat Runner collage of the clothes they plan to wear from head to toe and adding in supplements, fuel belts, shoes and bib numbers to create their race day “flat runner.” Posting this to social media gets you cheers and your running buddies will be helpful in reminding you of any items you may have missed, true story! Have fun with it, even if you just text it to your running buddy you will be meeting at the race so they know what you’re wearing to find you at the start line.
Celebration Post Race you will be on a RUNNER’S HIGH! Oh the sweat and glory of it all, often this is what we look forward to in setting these goals for ourselves in the first place.
They say that once you cross a finish line, you set your goals for that next start line. Final tip on race day:
5. RECOVERY and SET YOUR GOALS
Post race you will feel tired and sore, but do not stop moving if possible, even if you have to enlist help of a volunteer have them walk you through the post-race area to gear check or until you meet your supporters/friends. I have 3 key items I pack in my gear check bag for all races: Compression Socks, Sports Pain Cream, Recovery Shake. You may feel ravenous and want to eat all of the post-race food, but the most important to your recovery is to drink 2-3 water bottles immediately, then keep 1 more to mix your recovery shake. Too much food, too fast and you may feel nauseous so keep it to 1 banana, 1 nutrition bar and 1 bag of pretzels (food will vary race to race--one marathon I ran served pizza and Dunkin Donuts at the finish---try to limit those processed foods!).
Part of that crazy runners high is sometimes you feel a burst of energy to do it again and other times, you will want to collapse and vow to never run again. If you can muster it, an easy mile walk or shake out run day after a race can help you in gaining your mobility back and repairing your muscles. Massage is also a wonderful tool, either foam rolling or treat yourself to booking one with a masseuse! To keep yourself moving forward in this sport (and you will) be sure to give yourself 1-4 weeks of recovery time before you pin another bib on your chest.
Race season is upon us, whether you have been training to run your furthest distance yet or just getting back into it with 5 or 10k race, you are going to have an amazing running season, I just know it!! Stay positive and when you encourage others, you will encourage yourself to be your best too!
Jenn Voss is an outdoor enthusiast, as well as a fitness instructor, personal trainer and health coach. She has a passion for running and is active with local running groups as well as member of the national BEAST Racing Team and qualified as a Marathon Maniac this past fall running two marathons within 2 weeks. Endurance training is her specialty and she trains and competes year round with a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states one day. To date she has completed 1 Ultra Marathon (50k), 6 Marathons, 8 Half Marathons as well as triathlons, and placed in her age group in several local 5k races. As a health coach, she is always looking for ways to help individuals, groups and families fit fitness into their busy schedule to reach their own health and fitness goals.