I read an article the other day about a woman who was faced with indecision in the midst of a trial. She recalled an event that happened when she was a little girl in swimming lessons. Her final test would be to dive into the pool and swim to the other end. She knew this assignment well in advanced but failed to create a course of action. When the day came for her to complete the challenge, she jumped into the pool, surfaced, then panicked. She just stayed in one place, treading water, trying to figure out what to do next. After two minutes, the instructor told her “good job” and asked her to exit out of the side of the pool. The lesson this woman drew from her experience was the importance of creating a plan.
I think this experience correlates well to the challenge we have ahead of us on April 30th. It’s time for us to create a plan of action in order to finish the course instead of crawl out of the path half-way. This Saturday is our last really long run and a perfect opportunity to give our plan a try. Here are some important things to consider before the big day.
1. How am I going to handle the adrenaline of the starting line?
Believe it or not, the starting line is the make it or break it portion of a race. There is so much adrenaline pumping through our body that it is hard to remember all the training we have done. It is very easy to race out of the gate, going 2-3minutes/mile faster than we are used to, the only problem is that we are not trained to do so, and within 4 miles we may poop out. This Saturday really practice staying on pace for the first 3 miles, really think about how this pace feels. Understand that it is going to feel slow during the race but acknowledge the importance of a consistent pace. It will feel better to pass people at the end rather than to get passed yourself.
2. When and how will I fuel?
Fueling for a race begins way before the day of the race.
Hydration: Practice getting enough water beginning on Thursday, try to have your pee clear Thur and Fri night, then you won’t need to consume as much fluid on race day. During the race you will only need swigs of water or Gatorade, not gulps. At the end you will want to rehydrate, and you will continue to do so during the days following the race.
Protein is a necessary component to endurance running because after about an hour, your body begins looking for fuel other than carbs and fat. Try some source of protein the eve before and morning before (about 1 hour prior to racing) a race (eggs, nuts, protein shake or bar). After the race, try to get in protein within 15 minutes, this is the optimal window of recovery.
During the race your body will require a quick sugar, thus the beans, raisins, gummies. Begin fueling around 45-60minutes and continue to do so every 12-15minutes. It is important that once you begin the sugar, you stay on track, otherwise you could through your blood sugar levels into a roller coaster that is hard to recover from.
Salt: For those of you who will be on the course longer than 2.5 hours, you MUST use salt. Please begin taking salt around the 2.5hr mark, 1 pretzel every 10-12 minutes (note: there is not enough salt in an electrolyte drink). You can try pretzels, salt packets, Fritos, whatever you choose, just make sure to salt.
3. How am I going to handle it when my brain or body decides to quit?
Believe it or not, there will be a moment when you don’t want to go on. Now is the time to prepare for that moment. I have found that I am a finish line quitter, the minute I see the finish line, I quit, even though I haven’t yet crossed it. I lean on my teammates for support at that point. I also have a problem at miles 8 and 10, at those points I try to bring up an interesting topic or book I have read. I also begin some mind games. My favorite is to imagine I loop a giant rubber band on the runner in front of me and make her pull me along. I also like to create goals, i.e., “I will catch that lady in the pink shirt by mile 9.” Things like that take your mind off the run. Try something like this on our run on Saturday, especially on the hills.
4. What gear will I need for the race?
Saturday is going to be our last real race practice. Please wear the exact same outfit you plan on wearing on race day.
5. How will my team function?
Decide who will be in charge of the following things:
-pace: this person will watch the pace and give instructions on when to speed up, slow down & use different forms
-fuel: this person will watch the time and instruct group members on when to get water or electrolytes at a fuel station, when to begin with the sugar and salt and then remind team members at the appropriate intervals when to keep fueling
The best sleep you will get will be on Thursday night. Go to bed early, get a good night’s sleep, then you won’t feel so bad when you stay awake all night Friday with anticipation for the race.
That’s all I can think about for now, have a great training week and I will see you on Saturday!