Before my first 5k a few years ago, I over prepared. I thought about nutrition, sleep, and so on. My race partner and I even carb loaded, for crying out loud. After I got a few races under my belt, I kicked back and comfortably settled into the not-preparing-enough category. Somewhere in between those two extremes lies the level of prep I need.
I’m “type A” enough to want to run ultra marathons, but not type A enough to plan to win them. I also want to enjoy my runs. Granted, any long run includes some “Why am I doing this” and “I should have stuck with yoga instead of running” and “God I can’t wait to not-run” and “I think I just lost every toenail… and maybe a toe” conversations with myself, but I want to be prepared enough to finish a run without being carried out on a stretcher or losing control of my bodily functions.
Stress and depression are both huge motivators for me to run, and also the biggest threats to the success of my runs. A couple of weeks ago, my 25-mile training run suffered because of my stressful magazine print week and poor nutrition the days leading up to it. Still, I’d call that training run a success because I have better appreciation for how nutrition affects my performance, and I also discovered that I have some mild exercise- or allergy-induced asthma going on. After that run, I got an inhaler and promised myself to eat better, regardless of how stressed or depressed I am.
Maybe it’s the pre-race taper, or the changing seasons, or some other cloud in my head, but now I’m in a funk and have to force myself to eat so I’m ready for my first trail marathon this Saturday. I’ve been eating at home, trying to cook more, using my juicer, and knocking back some delicious protein shakes. And I think it’s working. Yesterday, despite the heat, humidity, and my horrible mood, I ran 3 miles on the river trails and felt pretty awesome. Even my pesky right calf felt fab. My 3 months of regular training is paying off, but I could tell that my body felt fueled.
Reminder to myself: I can’t control the weather or trail conditions on race day, but I control my training and nutrition leading up to it.
The October issue of Runner’s World includes this article, which is also posted online:
Race-Day Disasters: Don’t Let Them Happen to You! How to avoid common problems, from overhydrating to intestinal distress.
I don’t agree 100% with everything in this article, but it still offers solid tips and practical advice.
Whether you’re a beginning runner, fantasizing about becoming a runner, or running regularly, I highly recommend subscribing to Runner’s World. Not only will you be supporting the publishing industry and quality journalism, you’ll find lots of advice and personal stories to keep you motivated, improve your running, and help you avoid ending your race lying down on a stretcher.