By: Kim Ruple
We’re all looking forward to the 2nd Annual Diva Half-Marathon and 5K on Sep 12th. Last year’s event was a very hot and huge success for the running community and Peachtree City. We had tiaras, roses, pink tutus and some very nice fire fighters handing out finisher’s medals. It was hot! Hot! Hot!
I’ve learned a lot over nine years of running 5K to 100K races, and some of what I’ve learned has been the hard way. (For example, an unpredicted ice storm in Little Rock taught me to always bring clothing options!) As we approach this year’s event, here are a few tips from my own experience on what runners should do to prepare for race day.
1. First, be sure to be well trained for the event you are participating in and ensure you have your doctor’s clearance. You want to enjoy the day, have fun, and meet your goals, whatever they may be.
2. Set some goals for yourself; it will help motivate you to train and during the race. The goals could be new awesome bling/treat for the accomplishment, having fun with some friends, covering a distance you’ve never done before, or setting a new personal record (PR) for the distance. I always have a primary and secondary goal, so that in the event the unforeseen occurs, I don’t walk away feeling totally disappointed in myself. It’s totally up to you and what you want to achieve.
3. Concerning your nutrition, remember that when you run, calories in should not exceed calories out. I sometimes see new runners complain they are gaining weight as they begin to run. There are two reasons for this. The first is as you run, you tone up and increase your muscle mass, and because muscle is denser than fat it weighs more. So if your clothes fit or are getting loose, this is probably the cause, and you’re on your way to a leaner, more athletic body! If, on the other hand, you finish a run with a large, high-calorie beverage as a recovery drink, I would stop and consider how many calories you actually burned while running. It’s usually no more than 100 calories per mile. Suddenly, that 650-calorie venti caramel frappuccino you’re planning to reward yourself with doesn’t make much sense.
A day or so before the race, make sure to take in plenty of fluids (some studies recommend an ounce per pound of body weight.) You want to be well hydrated. I also suggest you watch your diet: don’t “carb load,” as all of us have enough stored intramuscularly for energy, and stay away from unfamiliar foods, highly fibrous or fatty foods, or foods that might upset your stomach. The night before the race, eat a light, nutritious meal, and on the morning of the race, try to eat two hours before race start so your stomach has time to digest and settle. Then, as you go to the race, make sure to drink water or your beverage of choice. I normally have a protein bar or yogurt, a cup of coffee, and Powerade Zero the morning of a race. The last thing we want to do is spend half the race touring the porta-potties.
4. As a working wife and mother, I find sleep is something I short myself on way too often. Our bodies need rest and sleep to recover and build. If you look at elite marathoners, they often get 8-10 hours of sleep plus naps. (Boy, that would be a nice luxury, but not very practical for most of us.) But I would recommend to try and go to bed a little early a couple of days before the race. And don’t worry if you are too excited the night before to sleep well; it happens to most of us and doesn’t seem to impact overall performance.
5. As race day approaches, realize you’ve done the training and you are ready. Relax, spend some time catching up with friends, family, and reading. Make a list of what you’ll need taken care of: what you’ll wear (hat, sunglasses, safety pins, watch, post-race change of clothes, clothing options for changing weather), eat, and drink; your plan to stay hydrated; your lodging and travel information, and so forth. Make sure everything is prepared and set aside so you aren’t scrambling the morning of the race for that missing sock. Also try not to wear anything you haven’t already run in. It could make a good day turn bad.
6. If the race has an expo, go! For me, this is a very energizing experience. You get to see all the new products, meet fellow runners, sign up for pace groups, and sign up for your next race. One word of warning: be careful when trying samples of new products you’ve never had before. It ruined one race for me. (See #3.)
7. The day of the race, leave early. It is better to arrive a little early than be running late, only to find the route you planned to take is closed due to the race you are trying to get to!
8. Run! Walk! Enjoy! We are blessed to be able to participate in events like this.
9. Post-race, remember to continue hydrating and eat something light to help your body recharge. My particular favorite is peanut butter stuffed pretzels. The salty-sweet mixture is one of my go-to foods. Also remember to stretch your muscles. They worked hard, and failing to stretch can cause soreness and muscle imbalances that can lead to injury (Note: There are research studies that support post-race stretching, and others that advocate not stretching. I find stretching does help me recover.)
10. Celebrate! You did it! Proudly wear your medal, jacket, etc. and brag a little – you earned it!
I hope you find these tips helpful and they enable you to enjoy the Diva, the Peachtree City Classic or any of your upcoming races.