As a runner preparing for a race there are a lot of steps to help achieve optimum performance to reach your goal.
First, consider your gear. Most specifically is a good pair of running shoes. You are built from your feet up so having the right support the most critical part in beginning a running routine. While you run your foot swells so choose a size that gives you about a half an inch of open space at the end of your shoe.
Do not order your shoes online; go to a store and try on several pairs to make sure proper fit is achieved. You also may choose to go to a running specialty store such as Fleet Feet where they will watch your foot strike and help you choose the correct shoe for your individual situation.
Secondly before you begin you want to think about nutrition. This begins and ends with being well hydrated. Do not wait until you are thirsty or are about to work out. Drink throughout the entire day and aim for drinking 32 ounces of water a day. You should aim for fresh raw protein before and after you run. Try things such as hard boiled eggs, raw nuts or organic peanut butter. Aim for having a light snack 30 to 45 minutes prior to your run so you are properly fueled. The same goes for the post run: try and eat and refuel your muscles within 30 minutes of the completion of your run. Think raw and colorful when choosing foods.
The next step is your warm-up. A good warm-up is crucial to help avoid injuries. You want to slowly warm your muscles while slowly increasing your heart rate. Active Isolated Stretching should be the first part of your warm-up. Exercises such as walking lunges and squats are an example of these.
Being a month out from your 10-miler or 5k you have been putting the work in to train and prepare for your race for a few months. With that said, the month prior to the race is all about resting and sharpening your pace. Rest is as important as training hard. Depending on your goal at this point in your training you should get familiar with what your race pace will be. Running a steady even pace will help you reach your goal.
The month should consist of a little running at or near your goal race pace while maintaining your mileage. This is also a good time to take an extra day or two off so you hit the starting line fresh and ready to go.
As the day approaches begin to visualize yourself during the race and hitting your pace. Get a few good nights of extra sleep, wake up early on race day and never change your pre-run routine the day of a race. Only do what you have been doing and your body is used to. This goes for gear as well sticking with the same shoes.
The best way to prepare for a run is to do some active lower body movements like walking, jogging or running at a slower pace. Save the stretch and hold exercises for after the run to help remove wastes and stress that accumulate during your running workouts. Some examples can be found here.
Nutrition is key as well. Knowing what to eat before and after a big race can make a huge difference in your run. Check out what top registered dietitians and sport nutrition experts have to say about fueling runs. Their pre- and post- workout snacks are healthy and delicious, and can help take your training to a whole new level.
For nutrition tips and more on wellness and fitness, see the March newsletter prepared by the College of Southern Maryland’s Wellness, Fitness and Aquatics department.
Check out the race course in this video!