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On Your Mark…And On Your Way To Your FIRST RACE!

April 21, 2015

Race season is upon us, and you have decided to put an extra Spring in YOUR step as well!

Congratulations! You are already ahead of the pack by setting out do something outside your comfort zone. Setting goals is how we get better not only as athletes, but as individuals.  So let’s embrace this race as an opportunity to get stronger AND to enjoy the path to the finish line.  In addition to the physical prep that needs to be done to conquer the course, your head needs to be in it to win it as well. Here are ten tips for getting yourself ready for race day.

1.  Visualization. Mark the race day on your calendar so you can physically see the timeline leading up to the race. This will help wrap your mind around how much time you have to get everything in order.

2.  Research. It is essential to find the best plan that works for your body, your goals, and your schedule. There are many sample schedules online. Do your homework and cross-reference a few that speak to you. The best schedule will be the one you can realistically follow.

3.  Gear. Make sure you have the right sneakers AND socks for your training. Believe it or not this plays a huge role in your race, especially if you are training for a full marathon. Personally, I didn’t realize the significance of the right sock until I found Feetures. Also, that whole bit you hear about the chafing is true!  Buy some bodyglide and your chest, thighs, armpits, uh, your entire body will thank you! Just make sure you do this early on in your training so there are no hiccups (and blisters) on race day.

4. Nutrition. Here’s the tricky part. Sure, fiber is good for you but not so good right before you pound the pavement. High fiber foods can cause digestive distress, so you want more quick-absorbing carb sources such as toast with almond butter and banana or a PB&J. If you’re Paleo or grain-free, go for some scrambled eggs and a little sweet potato. Lay off of apples, pears, and dates pre-run, as they can cause cramping. Dairy is another question mark. Some runners can rock a little bowl of cereal with skim milk before a run, but for others, the dairy can induce discomfort. No matter what, make sure you use your training to experiment with what works and what doesn’t. Whatever you do, DO NOT try something new on the day of the race! You should be on cruise control by then.

5. Fueling. What to do mid-race?! Depending on the length of the race you may need to start considering some of those fueling options ala gel blocks, GU packs, gatorade, etc. When I ran my marathons, I alternated a small sip of water and Gatorade each mile and then gobbled a GU pack every 6 miles. For me that worked like a charm. If you are running for less than an hour, you most likely won’t need any fueling, but be mindful of your water intake. Keep it to small sips  only, as gulps are no good for your gut. Make sure you are hydrated even before the race begins.

6. Support. Surround yourself with family, friends, colleagues who are excited for you and want you to reach your goals. Try and recruit a running buddy, join a running club, or even just hang out with those who keep you inspired.

7. Social Media. Talk about inspiration, follow instagram handles like @InstaRunners and @Runningsayings to get a handle on getting motivated to man some mileage. Also, sharing your own goals and accomplishments will most likely keep you on track to keep up the good work. Post away!

8. Sleep. Sleeping is an essential part of your training. Make it a priority and schedule your sleep just as you would a run.  Gotta hit the sheets so you can run those streets!

9. Game Time. Night before the race don’t do anything out of the ordinary ala eat a massive bottomless bowl of pasta. That extreme concept of “carb-loading” is not the way to do it. By now you’ve been consistently implementing high quality carbs like oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potato throughout your training. If anything, have some extra carbs the morning before and focus on hydrating and resting, not setting any rigatoni records. Also, lay out EVERYTHING you need for the race the night before: your race bib, layers, snacks, keys, ID, you name it. Put it all out there so you can have piece of mind. We don’t need your mind racing – we’ll leave all of the racing to your feet in the morning.

10. ENJOY!!!!! This is perhaps the most important part of ALL of your training. The entire point of this race is to set a goal and to enjoy the process of achieving it. Feel great about what you have done! You are officially a runner, and you are officially an inspiration to others. Take that  feeling of accomplishment and run with it 😉

For more of my health coaching tips, check out my FIT TO FEAST blog.