I, like many of you, began running as an adult. I never ran track or cross-country in high school. I just decided one day that I was going to start running, so I was truly a self-taught runner. Because of this, I made many errors - especially when I started running longer distances. Over the years I have learned from my mistakes and from my education as a fitness professional.
Some of you are new to the distance you are currently preparing for and others may be new to running altogether. I'd like to help you skip over a few of those running mistakes so that your first race will be a successful one, starting with these three tips.
Train For It
Most of us know we need to prepare our bodies for whatever distance we are going to run. But, many training plans have you prepare for a shorter distance than you are racing, assuming you will make up for the last few miles with pure will and race-day adrenaline. Why not make it easier on yourself and train beyond the distance you are going to run on race day? That will make your race distance easier both physically and mentally. Since I employed this philosophy I have felt better during races, been able to PR (personal record) more often, and been able to better focus the mental aspect that race day can bring.
Practice Fueling and Hydrating
Race day often brings new variables. If you usually hydrate with water and then try a sports drink on race day, you may discover that your stomach can't handle that particular form of hydration. If you've never tried any form of fuel along the way during your training runs, you won't know how your body will handle that gel you decide to try for the first time on race day. Figure out your hydration and try different forms of fuel during your training runs and then stick with it, so that your race day experience doesn't involve stomach cramps or nausea (or worse!)
Determine Your Ideal Pre-Race Meal
Some people can eat anything before they run without incident. Most of us cannot. Try out your pre-run breakfast until you find the ideal foods and the ideal amount of time to eat before you run. There is nothing worse than breakfast sitting in your stomach like a rock while you try to gut out a long run. Keep that breakfast lower in protein and higher in carbs, unless you have an iron stomach, as protein takes longer to digest.
Let me know how your training is going and/or submit questions or suggestions for future topics to TheFitnessStudio@canby.com