It has been a LONG time since I pinned a number to my singlet and raced. I am healthy, happy and enjoying running again, so it’s a perfect time to have some fun and race again.
I love to race. I enjoy training too, but racing is where I get to truly have fun with running.
I’m going to outline 8 strategies I’m going to use to make sure I have a really fun, positive experience in my first race in almost a year.
I’ll start with what I’ve been doing and then what I need to do in the 24-48 hours prior to the race.
For me to even think about racing, I’ve had to put in some work over the last few months. I am not a chronic racer – meaning I don’t race unless I feel I’m ready to race. So over the last 2-3 months, here’s what I’ve been doing to get to this point.
1. Increase my daily, weekly and monthly mileage.
Remember that everything is relative. Even running 2-3 days a week is better than zero days a week. For me, it is sometimes difficult to put mileage into context. I’ve run over 11 miles a day for weeks on end and now I’m definitely not doing that. I’m a different kind of runner with different kinds of goals, so 11 miles a day is not happening. Either way, I’m doing more than I was and that’s what matters.
I know that I’m consistent because I keep a training log. After every run, I fill in what I did, how I felt and then I monitor my running to make sure I’m progressing and not running too much or too little.
Do you keep a training log? If not, why not?
2. Keep training as consistent as possible.
Yes, my mileage is low, but it’s consistently low on purpose. I have lots more on my plate than I did even just a few years ago (hello Lucy!), so it’s not in my best interest to also add lots of mileage. I’m getting to the gym and doing strength work including my glute exercises, I have the ability to cross train if I’m run down and I’m also not afraid of moving around an off day if I need more recovery.
3. Create and follow a race plan
This is more or less something I practice and refine as each week passes. As a coach, I help runners create race plans, so I’m always thinking about how to maximize race performance even if it’s not me I’m perfecting it for. I believe in my abilities to perform at a high level because that’s my expectations. I don’t expect I’ll ever do something “just because” without the necessary thinking, planning and executing beforehand.
Now that we’ve covered a few strategies I’ve used over the last few months, not it’s time to look at what I’ll be doing now to prepare for the 5k.
1. Get good sleep
I know it’s said everywhere, but sleep is literally my everything. I’m not in love with sleep – it’s not what I love to do – it’s what I need to do. I function at 100% when I get somewhere between 7-8 hours. When I get my sleep, everything else falls neatly into place.
Until recently, I used to track my sleep. I would almost always get my hours, but the type of sleep I got wasn’t always consistent (heavy vs light). Once my Garmin watch strap broke, I had no desire to wear my watch to bed, so now I don’t track my sleep, per se, anymore.
2. Make sure my GPS watch is charged
This is a really easy one, but it helps set the tone and my state of mind. When my watch is charged, my body is charged. I also don’t want to be scrambling in the morning to make sure it has enough juice to get me through the race, so doing it the night before really helps.
3. Pack my race bag
Again, this isn’t a deal breaker, but why would I want to be finding racing shoes, racing shorts, a hat and compression socks in the dark at 5 am? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be doing that! Plus, if I can’t find something, isn’t it better to not be able to find it at night rather than as the car is pulling out of the driveway? That’s why I created a “race day routine” that I’ll be following to help me.
4. Have music to pump me up
If I’m going to be in the right mindset, I’ll have to have some music that gets me there. Sure, my nerves will be amped (heck, it’s my first race in almost a year) so I’m sure I’m not going to need a whole lot to get me there, but music will help me get in the zone and that’s what I’m looking for.
5. Eat a good breakfast
I won’t eat a lot prior to racing, but I will want something in my belly. I’ll probably have some oatmeal with peanut butter and honey – that seems to sit pretty well for me these days. Again, I don’t need a lot, but something to fuel me is what I’m looking for.
Recap: How I’ll Hack this 5k
I have plenty of racing experience over the years, so I’m not worried about making rookie mistakes, per se, but more about how my body will respond to the faster pace. One thing I’ll definitely do: get in a really good warm up.
I’m going to do everything I can to put myself in a position to have fun and end the day feeling like I gave it everything I have at this point. I will be a long way away from my lifetime PR, but as long as I enjoy racing and having fun running, I’ll call it a very big victory.
Happy 4th of July!
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