8 Race Day Preparation Tips for Runners

Happy Monday friends! It is the last week of the month. How many people are floored by the fact we’re approaching the 3rd month of 2013. Yikes. I’ll let you sit on that a moment…then today I have a fun guest post. A little like last week’s I simply liked the tips and am reminding people how to get back to basics, since that’s where I am with my training again. Ken’s piece gives a different view on how to train and the way you should move your body. I know over the past I’ve grown more into minimal shoes and short/quick turnover. Here is a view for those believing a longer stride is their cup of tea. Oh and Ken does link to UltraSlide, but let me ask you something…have you ever used one? It is seriously a dream of mine to own one…haha. Anyway…away we go to the post…

8 Race Day Preparation Tips for Runners

Whether you’re training for a half-marathon or a full on racing competition, as a serious runner you cannot afford not to be primed for race day. Starting a regular workout program now and putting your training first should be a priority. Even if you think you are in the best shape of your life, you can improve your performance as a runner by prepping now for race day.

Establish your running stride. Many runners make the mistake of thinking their natural stride will get them through a race. But actually this stride may not be as efficient on your body’s energy reserves during a long distance race. Take the time to lengthen your stride as you do your practice runs. Reach out further with your legs and arms to increase the distance that each stride has, for improved time and efficiency.

Increase running resistance. While you may be used to running for up to an hour at a time or more, your race may require you to run for several hours or all day. This means you will need to increase your resistance by increasing your time each practice session. You will also need to condition your breathing and body strength. Add five-minutes to each timed running session each week, until you can comfortably run for up to 3 hours without stopping.

Choose the right shoes. The most important racing elements, besides physical strength and endurance, is having shoes that fit right and support your most precious body parts – your feet. This means getting fit for running shoes that are the correct size, width, and structure for your feet. Don’t wait until a few days before the race to buy your shoes. Get them and break them in at least two-weeks before race day.

Energy boosting diet. In terms of your body’s ability to run for longer distances and times, you will want to focus on a diet that includes plenty of protein and vitamin rich foods. This will help you to have more energy and strength reserves when you feel low during the race.

Strengthen your body. In addition to getting enough rest and eating right, you need to work on some strength training outside of running. This primes all your muscle groups for the running event ahead. Use kettle weights or resistance bands to tone your arms, legs, and back muscles. Take calcium supplements or add more dairy to your diet for strong bones and muscles.

Go the distance. In addition to being stronger, you will need to prep your body for the increased time you will be running. Take the time to add a quarter-mile per week to your running routine, so that by race-day you will be ready.

Track your heart rate. Your heart will be taking on additional stress while you prepare for your race. Wear a heart monitor and get yourself into a comfortable rhythm as part of your physical fitness routine. You never want to increase your heart rate too rapidly, which can cause you to experience fatigue and possibly do damage to your heart.

Breathe easier. Your breathing rate and the depth of your breathing has much to do with your ability to run for long distances in a marathon. Take time for meditation that includes deep breathing exercises to expand the lungs and increase capacity.

About the author: Kennith Campbell writes about running and other fitness and training topics.  Kennith is a writer for ultraslide.com.

Guest Post: 5 Ways to Cope with Common Running Injuries

Today I am honored to loan my space to a wonderful woman who reached out to me on Twitter and asked if she could share tips on dealing with injury. I keep saying I like to help support others out there in the community and Cassandra is a fellow runner and blogger. For a lot of us in the colder areas, the snow is starting to fade and we’re ramping up our distance, time or terrain. When we do this, every so often injuries come along for the ride. If you’re in that boat or fear being in that boat in 2013, read on my friends…read on…

5 Ways to Cope with Common Running Injuries

Running injuries can range from mild to serious, but they’re never welcome, especially when you’re in the middle of a training routine for a big race. If you’re a regular runner, it’s likely you’ll encounter pain from time to time. Luckily, there are preventative steps you can take to avoid getting hurt.

1. Get some good shoes: While this may seem obvious, make sure the shoes you’ve chosen are appropriate for your running style. You can go a long way towards preventing an injury with quality footwear. The best way to find your perfect fit is trying on a bunch of different brands and styles. One option could be a pair of Nike running shoes, which maintain great support, comfort and style — all necessary things for a true runner. Some companies even have a trail period where you can run in your shoes and return them if they aren’t up to your standards.

2. Find the right running surfaces: Everyone has preferences, from types of terrain to locales. Are you running on the surfaces that will work best for you? The best surfaces absorb more impact, which puts less stress on your joints and decreases pain.

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3. Don’t overdo it: Running too frequently and training too hard can result in shin splints, calf cramps and back pain. Be realistic about your capabilities and your goals. Gradually and safely build up your stamina and endurance.

4. If you feel pain, stop: Pain means something is wrong. To avoid furthering the injury, tend to whatever is ailing you right away. Running-related issues can present themselves in many ways. Talk with your doctor to determine the best plan for your healing and recovery.

5. Rest: We all know rest is helpful for healing, so make sure you get the proper amount of rest to let your body recover quickly and properly.

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As a runner, you want to get back in the game as soon as possible. To ensure a safe and speedy return to your normal routine, follow these steps that should prove to be beneficial:

  • Ease back into it: Even though your injury may be subsiding, it doesn’t mean you’re ready to run the way you did before. Start slow and work your way back to where you want to be.
  • Consider your pain: If you’re still hurting more than you think you should be, it may be a sign to cut back. It’s understandable you’re eager to start training again, but realize that expecting too much of a recovering injury may prolong or even prevent a full recovery.
  • Enjoy it: Part of training is recognizing your improvements. Remember what it was like as you worked your way up before the injury? Enjoy that same kind of satisfaction another time around.

Prevention is the best method for avoiding painful and dangerous running injuries. Knowing how to avoid or diminish pain, treat and recover from injuries is a skill set all dedicated runners should be aware of. You may have taken all the right steps to sidestep pulled muscles or a back strain, but accidents do happen. If you incur an injury while running or anytime afterward you’ve finished your run, learn how to deal with the message your body is sending so you can safely rest and recover and get back to doing what you love.

C'estmoi2Cassandra Lynne is the admin of Good Morning Bloggers, which helps connect bloggers with writers. She enjoys keeping her running routine interesting by running with her dog, completing 5ks for a good cause and trail running. Follow her on Twitter @goodmorningblog.

Guest Post : On Your Mark…Get Set…

A few weeks back a wonderful lady named Alexandria sent me a request for a possible guest spot on my blog. After looking at what she wanted to post, I was more than willing and excited to agree. Where I am a runner focused on races, Alex is a runner focused on running for the sake of running. When I started and when I start over again each time I’ve been injured, I always kept my eyes and heart on the next “race”. Hopefully you will all find this different perspective a refreshing change of pace.

On Your Mark…Get Set…

There’s something special about running. It requires no equipment and can be done virtually anytime and anyplace yet it manages to engage nearly your entire body. Your quads, calves, hamstrings, and other lower body muscles work in harmony while calling on your core and upper body to stabilize you. It’s such a simple task and yet it’s almost artful when you think of the biological choreography taking place.

Running is a simple task in that you just have to pick up your feet and move, but it can also be intimidating. Whether you’re trying to get into running for the first time or simply re-entering the race after sitting on the sidelines for a while, the prospect of running can well, make you want to run away. The idea of you running seems less fun than funny. You may have found yourself thinking, “Me, a runner? Yeah, right! I’ll get right on that…and then I’ll do the moonwalk in my underwear in front of my boss.”

Trust me when I say this – it doesn’t have to be like that, not for running or any type of workout.

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Once upon a time in a land far far away, but not so long ago lived a 21 year old who was 5’4 and weighed 187 pounds. She had been cursed to suffer with a “pleasantly plump” shape by two witches named Sedentary Lifestyle and Atrocious Eating Habits. Wait as she might on the couch in front of her television, no knight in shining armor rode to her rescue. She had to break the curse on her own. It was a quest that lasted over a year and, as is the nature of all great quests, she made many friends and learned a lot about herself. Today, that girl weighs 146 pounds, can run a mile in 8.5 minutes, and actually understands the foreign language of nutritional information. If you haven’t figured it out already…that girl is me.

For all of those similarly cursed, here are some tips on how I broke the spell and got back into running and working out:

1.      Go! You can’t keep making excuses. Its super easy to do so and I bet that (like me) you can get really creative with what you tell yourself, but it has to stop. Whatever your motivation is for running chances are that someone is always going to be faster than you, better than you, look sexier in their workout gear than you do, and etc. You can’t let
any of that stand in your way.

      Personally, my biggest excuse was that I just didn’t have the time. To overcome that excuse I killed two birds (or to stick with my fairy tale metaphor, two dragons) with one stone: I started working out for 30 minutes a day on my lunch hour and then eating at my desk afterwards. This got me moving 5 days a week and since I didn’t have time to go anywhere else, it prevented me from eating it out.

2.      It’s time to get real(istic)! We’ve all heard the proverb that slow and steady wins the race and when you’re just getting into the race you need to keep that in mind. Understand that you aren’t going to start running and break the world’s record for fastest mile your first day. Set realistic goals and expectations. Doing anything else is like trying to run with your shoe laces tied together: You’re going to fall flat on your face.

      The first time I went to the gym I figured out my BMI (body mass index), measurements, and how long it took me to run a mile. My BMI was 32 (putting me
in the “obese” category) and it took me 15 minutes to “run” a mile. I was disappointed in myself; after all, for a brief period in my school days I had run cross country –  shouldn’t that have just come back to me regardless of how long I had sat on the sidelines?

      I too had to get realistic. I started evaluating myself (BMI, measurements, and how long it took me to run a mile) once a month. I set small goals for myself. For instance,  during that first month, my goal was to take 2 minutes off of my mile. I focused on taking steps – not leaps and bounds. There were still disappointments along the way, but they didn’t knock me on my butt.

3.      Obsess much? Whether you’re running to get into shape or to enter a specific race/marathon, you’re not the energizer bunny and you can’t go 24/7. You have to allow your body to recover. Pushing your body to exhaustion everyday will lead to injuries – especially when you’re just getting started. Make sure you stretch, warm up, cool down, and take time off as needed. Try to make the whole thing fun. Listen to your favorite music while you run. Try to enlist your friends or family or join a “running club” so you aren’t out there alone.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it  what you put into it.” No quest is easy. If it was, we would all be lean, mean beacons of  health and wellness. When it comes to running, if you work hard you WILL see results. Don’t be intimidated by the road less traveled…just remember to stretch first!

Post contributed by Alex Webb on behalf of Tristate Orthopaedic Treatment Center providing sports medicine to Cincinnati. Alex’s current fitness goal is to successfully complete the Run Like Hell 5K benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this Halloween. Follow her on twitter @alexandriakwebb.