Six Things You Should Do on Race Day

Remember these tips whether you are running a 5k, 10k, or a marathon.

There are a number of things you should do on race day, from what time you get up to taking other adequate measures to ensure that you finish the race. Here are some of the most important things you should do on the day of your next (or first) big race.

Wake Up Plenty of Time Before the Race Begins

Even if waking up at the crack of dawn pains you deeply, you should do what you can to avoid waking up too close to the starting time of a race. Rushing around the morning of race day is a surefire way to burn unnecessary energy that you could use for the race. Give yourself ample amounts of time to grab something to eat and drink and to get dressed before you have to jump in the car to drive to the start. You will also want to allow time for going to the bathroom, warming up and stretching while mentally preparing yourself before it is time to begin.

Fuel Up

As mentioned before, eating breakfast is an essential component of a good start to race day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day any day of the week but especially on race day. Chances are if you haven’t eaten for 9 to 12 hours, your blood glucose is probably low. Races challenge your fuel reserves (especially if they are longer) so fueling up before a race is important. Head to the starting line as full of carbohydrates and protein!

Don’t Wear New Shoes or Gear

Show up at the race with familiar shoes and gear. Those that you have put miles in are going to be the most comfortable. Never show up to race day in brand new shoes, even if they are the same kind of shoes you have been wearing for miles and miles. Race day is not the day to break those shoes in unless you want loads of blisters.

Also avoid wearing anything else new, such as spandex, underwear, sports bra, shirt, shorts, or socks. Wear clothes and gear that you have previously worn so you know you will be comfortable.

Pass on the Cotton

Don’t wear cotton clothes. Cotton is cheap but is also not very breathable, meaning it holds your sweat in rather than enabling it to evaporate. Opt for lightweight fabrics that do not stick to your skin.

Hydrate Frequently

Hydration is vital when running because water is involved in the chemical reactions necessary for your muscles to contract. Water also helps oxygen get to your muscles through blood. If your body weight drops over 2 to 3 percent during a race due to fluid loss, your pace will slow significantly. Drink early and often during the race, unless you are running a shorter race like a 5k.

Focus on Performance Rather than Time

Many runners head into a race thinking about a time they want to run. Surprisingly, many end up running slower than they want to. Rather than putting all your eggs in the time basket, focus more on your performance rather than the outcome. By focusing on your performance, you have a better chance of getting the outcome you desire.

Increase Your Speed with These Sprint Workouts

And how to increase your sprint speed, too!

If you want to be a fast runner, you have to run fast. If you want to improve your running speed for race day, incorporating spring workouts is an excellent way to accomplish just that.

According to John Honerkamp, running coach and former coach at New York Road Runners, “Any running that is faster than your current or easy conversational pace can be classified as speedwork.” This includes exercises including track repeats, striders, tempo runs, and running at goal race pace.

But sprint workouts are equally as important as they help you to improve your efficiency at all paces as well as your form. Sprints help to recruit and develop what is known as fast-twitch muscle fiber as well as increase the heart rate and calorie burn, all while building muscle. By drawing on these effects, you will see faster results over time that helps you to beat your own PR. Speed work also forces you to change your stride, effort, and breath, which causes your body to get better at supplying oxygen to your muscles more efficiently.

Strive to do one to two days a week of speed work and you will see massive benefits – especially if you are just getting started. Try one of these workouts to pick up the pace!

Beginner Workout

Start with striders or short bursts of speed. Speed work is a lot of stress and striders are little bits of it so your body doesn’t freak out. This is perfect for newbies because diving in too quickly and doing too much can increase your risk of injury.

Start out by running 30 to 45 minutes at a pace that is easy for you. It should be around a 4 or 5 of 10 on your own scale of perceived exertion. Wrap up with 4 to 6 20-second striders at max effort, mixing in 30-45-second interval jogs in between for recovery. This is best if done on a flat road or track.

Advanced Workout

This is a more intense workout with shorter recoveries. This workout amps up to faster paces toward the end.

Begin with a 1-mile warmup. Run eight 600 meters at 5k goal pace, squeezing in 200-meter recovery jogs in between. Then run four 200 meters at 1-mile pace, with 200-meter recovery jobs in between. Wrap up the workout with a 1-mile cooldown.

How to Increase Your Sprint Speed

Here are some tips to increase your sprint speed even further.

  1. Use proper posture. Try to keep from swinging your arms from side to side and do not slouch.
  2. Increase your stride length (the fewer steps you take, the faster you will be). Try to drive your legs back while running to lengthen your stride.
  3. Decreasing your body fat can also impact your ability to run faster. Eat right and fuel your body with healthy food.
  4. Strengthen your hip flexors by sprinting hills and working on weighted spread eagle sit-ups, mountain climbers with bands and leg raises with bands, for example.

 

6 Benefits Running Has on Your Body

Running helps more than just your physique.

Working out won’t get you ripped overnight and running will not cause your body to shed 30 pounds in a week. You may not see instant weight results but running makes other dramatic changes in your life too (it improves your health and can make an impact on how you live) – some of which you can experience within the first week! Here are some of the benefits of running you will notice after you get started on your running journey.

Instant Mood Boost

Running can improve your mood instantly! 15 to 20 minutes can lift your mood while boosting your energy. Running is a form of aerobic exercise and this form of exercise is known to produce endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain and stress fighting chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for that “runner’s high” you have probably heard of.

Encourage Positive Thinking

Negative thoughts and emotions plague many of our minds, leaving us feeling unmotivated and unproductive. Part of maintaining a positive mindset are factors including staying motivated and managing stress. Those post-run endorphins have a place in helping you to relieve stress. When you stick to your goals and make progress, it will also motivate you to keep going forward. All you need are 15 minutes of physical activity to encourage that surge of endorphins, improving your mindset.

Improve Confidence and Health

Aerobic exercise has many other benefits when it comes to your health, including managing blood sugar levels, maintaining healthy blood pressure and improving your metabolic rate. It can also improve your body image, self-esteem, and confidence as well as your physique and posture.

Improve Self-Discipline

Making time in your day for running and following through with it is the epitome of self-discipline. The self-discipline you instill by setting a regular running routine can spill over into the rest of your life! And you will be a majority! Less than 5 percent of adults spend 30 minutes of physical activity each day – the amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Improve Your Cognitive Function

Running (and other forms of aerobic exercise) plays a role in your natural cortisol levels, which helps your brain to retain information! Running also boosts your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a key ingredient when it comes to memorization. One study suggests that running is the best activity to take part in after learning as it helps information to stick!

Sleep Better

Not only does running help you to have more energy, but it also can help you to sleep better. Running is proven to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. Some studies have also found that physical activity in the morning can impact your ability to fall asleep at night for the better, reducing instances of restlessness when you should be sawing logs.

These are only a few of the many benefits of running. After spending months or even years sticking to a regular running routine, you will undoubtedly unveil even more benefits of running.

 

7 Reasons You Should Love Summer Running

Summer is a great time to run. The harsh days of winter are passed as is the unpredictability of spring weather. Summer offers daylight to squeeze your runs in and you can wear fewer layers. Because summer running is such a blast, here are 10 things to love about working up a sweat on a hot, sunny day.

The Days are Longer

When summer comes around, you can squeeze in an early morning run with the early sunrise! Not only is dark o’clock tucked away until cooler temperatures return, but the early sunrise offers extra motivation to get out of bed.

The daylight does not just come early in the summer – it hangs out late too. During the summer, you have extra time to squeeze in a run after working a 9-to-5 while it is still light out.

Sweat Away the Pain

You read that right. Did you wake up with back pain? Are you aching from yesterday’s workout? One of the best ways to relive your aches and pains may be to work up a sweat. Increasing your heart rate and allowing your body to sweat is a great way to treat your pain (plus, sitting around will only make you more stiff and sore in most cases).

Shirtless Runs

This is a benefit that everyone can enjoy. If it is too hot to wear a shirt, you can simply ditch it! Hello sports bra or shirtless runs! Few things are as empowering, freeing, and comfortable as hitting the pavement in a pair of running shoes, shorts, and a sports bra.

Summer Running Tan Lines

Those racer-back tan lines will let others know that you might be a runner. If you also have a shorts tan, a sock tan, and a sports bra tan, you may be branded for life – or until they fade (or you even them out at the beach).

Added Vitamin D

Natural sunlight offers the best dose of the sunshine vitamin, also known as vitamin D, which is crucial for overall health. Vitamin D lowers high blood pressure, improves brain function, protects against inflammation and even protects against cancer. Running in the summer ensures you get plenty of this beneficial vitamin in your bod.

Run Easier

Summer weather makes runners feel sluggish. When you feel like you have concrete blocks for feet, work with it. Run your first mile slower than you normally would to extend the amount of time you can spend running without overheating. Try slowing your pace by a minute or two to prevent burnout and enjoy your easy runs!

That Post-Run Shower

Cold showers after hot runs – need we say more? There is nothing quite like a cool shower after a run in the sweltering heat. Grab an ice-cold glass of water to keep within reach to keep you extra cool.