How to Race Well

I am someone who likes to race a lot.

Big races…

small races…

short races…

long races…

I like them all!

I thrive on the excitement of races. While every race is not a PR, I have found I thrive on racing frequently.  I also enjoy it.  I like meeting new people, pushing myself to the finish line and getting a good workout in.  Thinking out loud, I decided to compile a few tips and tricks that help me in any of my races.

How to Race Well:

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:

I believe that to run a goal race well; you should have a few practice races.

It is good to practice your nutrition, gels, CLOTHING, and pace goals beforehand.  Of course, you can do this in a training run, but nothing beats the real deal.  I know it took me 30+ 5ks to execute and PR at the Flower Show last year.  I highly doubt it takes most people that long.

STAY CALM:

Remember you’ve been preparing for the race. You’ve put in the work, and all that is left is the actual race.

Good nerves are not a bad thing but don’t let them get the best of you.  A while back, I was interviewed on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, I’ll have another.  She asked if I got nervous during races and the answer was not really.  I race so much that while I do have a few nerves and butterflies, it’s never overwhelming because I’ve been in that situation before!

(Race) Confidence is key!

REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING:

Between racing and training, the majority of time is spent training.  Don’t forget about how you’ve prepared for the race. Focus on the good aspects of training.  Let’s be honest, a bad run sticks in our head longer than a good one.  Try not to forget about the good training runs too! Those are what build your confidence!

Before a major race, I like to scroll through my training log and look at the runs I crushed and felt confident!  

I feel a lot better going into a race knowing I crushed goal workouts.

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN:

After the weather in 2016, I learned to toughen up in bad weather.  Before 2016, I had never really raced in bad weather.  The first five years, I had always lucked out, but very few races ever go smoothly.  It’s important to realize there will always be uncontrollables at a race and how you handle them will define your race!  This is a lesson I’ve learned with running and life.  You cannot control everything.

Uncontrollables can be many things:

  • the race start is late
  • the weather is awful
  • or the course is changed
You can’t control every variable of a race, but you can control how you react.  Every racer deals with the same uncontrollables.  Remember, every racer is dealing with the same issues and we are all making the best of it!

ENJOY THE RACE:

Every race has both high points and low points.  Embrace the good points as much as you complain about the low points.  Even in 5ks, you can have amazing moments and moments you want to forget.

REMEMBER THE END PROCESS AND MEETING YOUR GOALS IS WORTH IT.

Another post you might like: Racing in Undesirable Conditions

Questions for you:

Do you like racing?

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Training: Taper and Another Canceled Race

Last week was supposed to be a taper week, but the 10k I was going to race was canceled due to the thunderstorms and tornado warnings.  It stinks when you adapt your training, but the things happens.

However, I would always choose safe than sorry.  In fact by Saturday morning, I committed to not running before the race officially canceled.  I didn’t show up.

Monday: Easy 7 miles
Tuesday: Workout 6X4 minute intervals
Wednesday: Easy 7 miles
Thursday: Easy 7 miles
Friday: Easy 5 miles
Saturday: Canceled Race: 2X2 treadmill (6:40, 6:18)
Sunday:  Rest
Total: 51 miles

Training Thoughts: 

Workout: 6×4 Minutes (average 6:50 pace)

This workout was done in one of the most unideal situations (for me).  I had to start the run at 5 am.  I’m not a 5am runner and I don’t enjoy doing workouts in the dark.  After warming up, I noticed the track was being used, and it wasn’t an option to use a lit track.  I found a quiet piece of road and did the workout there, but I did not feel great at all.  I finished the workout feeling discouraged.  My goal was for 6:23 pace to feel easy and 6:40 pace felt like I was working hard.  I’ve run much faster tempo runs, so it was more disappointing than anything.  Like any bad workout, I put it in my rearview mirror and moved on with the day.

Taper: Runs during taper didn’t feel great either. Throughout the week, my legs progressively got heavier and I felt more like garbage.  Friday logs one of the worst runs I’ve had in a very long time. It was 100% humidity, my legs felt heavy, and I was tired.  I felt like I had run an ultramarathon not 5 miles.

Throughout the week, I was also monitoring the weather for the 10k I was tapering for.  Not only was it scheduled to rain but it was scheduled to thunderstorm and we also had tornado watches.  Parts of the state were under a tornado warning.

To be fair, I was excited to race hard for a 10k but not in miserable conditions.  On Friday night, they hadn’t officially canceled, but I was convinced they would.  I woke up Sunday morning to thunderstorms at 5am, nothing from 6-7 and a downpour followed by a tornado touchdown about 5 miles away.

My coach had given me a backup treadmill workout instead, just incase. Instead of having the mentality of tapering for nothing, I had the mindset of taking a recovery week which I needed.  Am I sad I tapered and paid for a race that didn’t happen?  Of course, but that is the risk of the sport and running isn’t everything.

Treadmill Workout: 2X2 Mile (6:40), (6:18)

After my race was canceled, I waited out the storm and went to the gym. I struggle with running fast on the treadmill, and I am able to run faster outdoors.  Personally, running workouts on the treadmill is not ideal, but it’s more ideal than running in tornados.  In fact, since it’s located in a concrete basement, the gym on base is actually a designated safe zone tornado shelter.

The first 2 miles started at 6:50 and worked down to 6:27 and the second 200, I started at 6:40 and worked down to a 5:42.  It didn’t feel comfortable, and I felt like I was working hard.  It was a solid workout for me and I made the best of the situation.

Running Related Posts from Last Week:
2017 Goal Races
adidas Supernova Shoe Review
Birmingham MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40)

Questions for you:

Have you had a canceled race?

I’ve had three now, and two were in the last month!  The first was the only triathlon I signed up for in 2011.

How was your week of training?

InsideTracker Blood Test Results Part 2

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I feel as if there is so much to catch up on.

In late December, I decided to get Insidetracker done again.  While it is cheaper than getting several tests done through insurance, it’s not inexpensive by any means.

Since I’m a healthy adult and nothing is “life or death”, blood tests are not covered by Insurance. I chose to get InsideTracker again because I knew it would help.  I did receive a discount from Insidetracker which was helpful.  I got results done in July and ultimately found my iron was too high as well as a few other things.  (Detailed post here).

So What Happened in the Last Few Months?

After receiving my results in July, I did start taking a probiotic as recommended.  I gave the probiotic 3 months, but I didn’t notice a change in anything.  At an extra $90 ($30 per bottle at the recommended 3X per day), I couldn’t justify the cost and not noticing a difference.

Iron:

Since July, I’ve also worked to lower my iron, but it seems I worked too hard and it plummeted almost to the “too low” category.  This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had too such low iron. The fact that it dropped that quickly is alarming.

InsideTracker Iron

But it would explain why I’ve been more tired.

How did I lower it?

Since July, I went off my multivitamin which had 100% iron in it.  While I prefer dark chocolate, I ate a lot more milk chocolate with less iron.

I already consumed (and still do) red meat 2-3X per week as well as leafy greens.  That’s probably why it didn’t lower anymore.

Now that my iron is too low, I think I’ll go back on my multivitamin with iron in it and dark chocolate. 

Liver Enzymes:

Since getting my previous results, my liver enzymes have stayed “at risk.”  They need work and to be honest, I’m not surprised.  They took a backburner while I worked towards everything else, so I didn’t do much with them.

InsideTracker Liver Enzyme

This time, I am going to add both wheat germ and an extra serving of almond, sunflower or peanut butter to my diet each day.  I’m actually not a huge peanut butter fan.  I don’t hate it, I just don’t have it often.

So what’s the Plan?

I’m spending the next 6 weeks focusing on making these small changes because it’s perfect timing. While I do have responsibilities and things to do, I’m not working full-time.  I have access to cooking, preparing and eating foods that would work for me.  If I cannot make these changes now, there probably won’t be an easier time.

For the next six weeks, I plan to watch and monitor my diet.  I’m not going to make a lot of extreme changes, and I don’t plan to change the caloric intake, however, I do plan to eat more nutritionally dense food for me.

What I like about InsideTracker is they make recommendations for foods that can help optimize your personal results.  While I could spend hours researching, how to increase iron levels or decrease liver enzymes, it’s right on my dashboard.  For me, it means including a lot more wheat germ or nut products.  I can’t make any promises, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing my experiences along the way in the food and diet world too.  Although I like to read other people’s posts, nutritional posts haven’t been on the forefront of my blog for a while.

I would definitely recommend InsiderTracker as it’s a great tool to help you figure out what nutrition your body needs.  You cannot get more of an awakening than learning your blood results.

Questions for you:

What are some ways you consume wheat germ?

Have you ever taken a probiotic?

Training: Easy Runs and a Turkey Trot

Training Last Week:

Short Version: In summary last week, I recovered from the Philadelphia half and had a quality week of training.

Monday: Easy 75 minutes/Deep Tissue Massage
Tuesday: Easy 75 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 80 minutes
Thursday: Medford Lakes Turkey Trot (18:30)
Friday: Easy 75 minutes
Saturday: Easy 10
 Sunday: Easy 70
 Total:  64 miles

All of my easy runs were easy and I enjoyed Monday-Wednesday better than I enjoyed racing the Philadelphia half.  I bounced back mentally and physically from the race.  My friend, Montana, was back in town for Thanksgiving so I was able to run with her on Saturday.

Montana and I

Medford Lakes Turkey Trot (18:30):

I didn’t feel 100% during the race.  My legs still had the Philadelphia half on them but they didn’t feel bad either. My mile splits were a consistent 5:56, 6:02, 6:00. My hopeful goal was to be under 19 but my dream goal was to run 18:35 (6 min pace).  I’m happy I achieved that and it was a great race for me.

I didn’t know how the race would go.  Last year, I ran an 18:48 and was ecstatic (also after running Philly).  My hopeful goal was to be under 19 but my dream goal was to run 18:35 (6 min pace).  I’m happy I achieved that and it was a great race for me.  It’s actually my third fastest 5k ever (behind the Resolution Run 18:22 and the Flower Show 5k)

I’m happy with how the week went.  With the exception of the Turkey Trot, it was a boring week.

Running related posts:
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Shoe Review
Philadelphia Half Marathon (1:27.44)

Questions for you:
How was your Thanksgiving week?
What was your favorite workout last week?

You Know You’re a Runner When…

I’ve been working at the Running Store for over two years now.  I’ve probably seen every kind of foot type and gait you can imagine.

I’ve even  written several running shoe related posts (if you ever have a question, just ask):
Losing Toenails: The Runners Rite of Passage?
What to Expect at a Running Store
How to Find the Perfect Pair of Running Shoes

I blog about running; I work at a running store, and I run myself.  Heck, I’m not even an elite runner, but a good portion of my life is influenced by running.  Of course, a good portion is not but that is not what I choose to blog about :).

So perhaps you’re walking around the world and you see someone you think you could share your hobby of running.  How do you know?  How can you tell?  Those bright speciality running shoes?  That vintage race t-shirt? 

You know You’re a Runner When:

You’re Shoes May Cost $120+, but a single pair of socks costs about $12+…hey, blister free running is worth it? 

You Pay $30 for half an hour of fun…but watching a movie in theaters…no thanks.

Your wall décor are medal holders, race awards and finishers trophies.

You’ve taken a vacation that revolves around a race or 3… 

Your laundry consists of 95% running clothes, 5% other clothes. 

You’ve purchased plenty of liquid sugar (GU) but whine when regular food has added sugar.

You wear compression underneath everything.  Work clothes, date night, wedding? 

cep compression capris
I’ve got compression for my compression…

You wake up earlier on the weekends for long runs or races.

You must finish a run on an even number.  5.89 miles is not the same as 6 miles…as a 10k…as half a marathon…as 7 miles…

Your coworkers stopped asking if you wanted to go out for lunch because they know you’re going for a run.

Your significant other used to try and change your mind about running but has since given up an even joined you for runs or races.

Can't beat them, join them right?
Can’t beat them, join them right?

Question for you: What are some runner’s quirks you have?

A Timeline of Injury

Since I’ve been injured, it’s a good time to reflect on injuries and talk about things that have helped me personally through this particular injury.  It’s much easier to talk about injuries when you are actually injured versus reflecting upon it when you are completely healthy.

I’m not a doctor, expert or coach, but I do have personal experience in being injured.  (What great personal experience that is…).  Thinking out loud, It’s important to remember, every injury heals at a different rate and every person recovers differently.

So in summary, what works or has happened to me, might not for you.  But if you’re anything like me, you enjoy reading about other people and what has worked (or not) for them.

A Timeline of Injury

So here is a timeline of my injury:

Early to Mid May:

I began to feel burnt out with running.  I wasn’t injured, and I ran several races including Broad Street, the Newport 10k, and the Track Mile.  Both Broad Street and the Newport 10k went well and I ran Personal Bests, but I felt eh after the mile.  I didn’t feel good, but I didn’t feel bad.  I didn’t feel injured either (which is important).  I began to read signs that I felt burnt out and decided to take some time off.

In late May I got a bad case of food poisoning.  It forced me to take five days off no questions asked.  When I went out for a short run on day six something in my ankle felt off and weird.  It wasn’t sharp, but it was a dull ache.  I thought I had rolled my ankle, but I just decided to rest and take a 2-week break.

During that period my foot progressed and felt worse.  Finally, I decided to go to the doctor and get an MRI.  Since I have a special form of insurance, I was able to book someone in network (Who I wanted to see) without primary care approval.

Early June: MRI and Diagnosis

My MRI concluded I had fractured my ankle. I was ordered into a boot for a week.  I was allowed to spin and swim but nothing weight bearing.  So for a week, I did just that.  I was still burnt out from running, so the rest didn’t bother me.

Mid June:

Mid June hit me pretty hard.  There was a half marathon I wanted to do, The Odyssey half, that I had to skip.  I wasn’t in pain, but I knew it would be idiotic to run knowing I had a broken bone.  I could have probably run through it but who knows what sort of bones I might have shattered…running on a broken bone is dumb. Plus I probably wouldn’t limp but I wouldn’t feel great either.  I spent most of June in a funk.  I didn’t feel good and I mentally struggled with not being able to run.

Late June:

I was ordered for four weeks of rest and by the time I knew it, the end of June was here, and I was allowed to attempt a run.  (Run being .25 miles).  I ran, and it felt like a typical first run back: awkward and awful. I didn’t expect a magical run but I had hoped to feel a little bit better.

July:

I spent July slowly building my base.  Slowly being key.  I ran every other day and only ran a few miles at the most.  By the end of July, I worked up to my first race back: The Run for the Hill of It.  Luckily it was scorching that day and took all of the pressure off of me. I didn’t feel in shape racing but I was injury free.

August:

August was both the best and worst month for me.  How?  I logged a lot of miles, and I felt as if I *finally* got over my injury.

So how could it be bad?

I raced frequently enough that I wanted more, and wanted to be where I was previously.  Before my injury, I was running 2 minutes faster in 5ks.  My half marathon pace was faster than the 5k pace I was struggling to keep.  Running a 20 minute 5k just felt like I was starting over.

September:

Here I am just over 100 days since my initial injury.  I feel like I’m recovered.  I hate declaring that because you never know what could happen but I do feel as if my injury is in the past.  Am I in shape?  No, but I am injury free which is the first important step.

100 days ago and I was injured but who knows where I’ll be in 100 days?

100 days isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things.  I know my fitness will come back.

Questions for you:

What was your last injury?

Where do you see yourself in 100 days? (December time frame)

 

Why You Should Take a Rest Week

Cutback week…

Down Week…

Less Running…

Essentially all phrases that mean, not running…Why You Should Take a Rest WeekIt seems counter-intuitive to take a week to back off mileage, intensity, and speed.  So why do it at all? 

Reducing your training for a week can help keep injuries away.  Rest weeks allow your body to repair damaged muscles but also allow your mental state to rebuild.

As runners we often want to run as fast and as long as possible.  We want our mileage to be consistently high, and we want to be at our best all of the time.

Rest, down weeks and taper, can be the hardest weeks to incorporate into training.

When Should You Take a Cutback Week?

Like there is a different shoe for every runner, there is a different “right time” to take a cutback week for every runner.  Generally, every 4-6 weeks, athletes should take time a week of decreased mileage and intensity.

How Much Should You Actually Cut Back?

Again, there is no right or wrong answer.  Anywhere between 25-50% of weekly mileage or 50-90% of the highest mileage weeks.

How Can Rest Weeks Prevent Mental Burnout?

Let’s face it, at some point, most runners “burn out”.  My burnout came shortly before I got injured.  I tried to push through it but looking back my body was telling me to rest.  I should have rested both physically and mentally.

Taking a rest week allows yourself to “miss running” and to rebuild the confidence you once had.

Bottom Line:

Any runner, elite or not, can benefit from taking a rest week.  It will help recover mentally, physically and emotionally.  You aren’t going to lose fitness from taking a step back from running for a week.  In fact, you are going to recover and gain fitness.

Question for you: Do you take recovery weeks?