As you prepare for your next race there are many questions you may have about what you should eat the day before and the morning of, what shoes you should wear, and what race recovery should look like. Before you sign up for a race you should also be considering your experience level, what the distance of the race is, your goals for the race, how long you have until the race, and how you are going to prepare or train.
Evaluating Your Experience Level, Your Goals & Deciding On Training Preparation
If you are someone who is an avid runner and is hammering the pavement for 15+ miles a week and are trying to be competitive or hit a PB (Personal Best) in the next race only then you will need to make adjustments to your current training. To be competitive in the various distances, the training leading up will look much different.
If you are already conditioned well to hit 10-15k without stopping you should start working shorter distances and higher speeds. For example, you should focus on 5k-7k runs at :15-:30 a mile faster than your traditional 10-15k speed. Higher intensity training or speed training (closer to 100% efforts) will trickle down and improve your ability to train longer and at a lower intensity. Unfortunately, it does not work in the opposite direction. Low-intensity training does not have as much effect on our high intensity.
This theory comes from anaerobic training having an influence on our aerobic threshold. But in that same theory, it states that we are unable to influence our anaerobic ability with aerobic training.
If you are not running much or at all, or haven’t run in a long time then you are in a much different boat. You are going to have to prepare by building your ability to handle the volume of distance running. No matter where you are at in your conditioning, you have to work up to running long distance. If you can’t run ¼ of a mile without walking but you want to run a 5k then your training plan for the race needs to emulate that. This follows the progressive overload principle.
Progressive overload is the principle by which we gradually increase the stress placed on the body during exercise.
With regards to running, this simply stated means that you start at a low and easy distance and you progressively build to your goal distance or something near it. With many running programs out there it can be easy to get caught up in a training program that may be too advanced or too easy for you.
I can customize a training program based on your experience level and goals for your next race or for your running goals in general. Get in touch today to learn more about personal training, custom programs, and coaching with me.
A Basic Training Plan Following The Progressive Overload Principle
The following plan is a basic plan for those running their first 5k (3.1 miles). I always suggest you do a 5k before a 10k and a 10k before a 15k and so on. Even if your goal is to run a 15k, half marathon or marathon all of these runs will be included in your long term training. This plan is for your first 3 miles:
Giving yourself 2-3 months, begin with walking 5-10 minutes daily or every other day for 1-2 weeks increasing your walking time by 2-3 minutes a day. Once you can walk 30 minutes without stopping then you are ready to start some running.
Once you begin running, you should run anywhere from 200-800m (⅛-½ mile) and then walk for double the amount of time it took you to run that distance. That is day 1.
You will do this, 2-3 times a week for one week not adding any distance over ½ a mile, and maybe adding some speed to this run. This is how we allow our body to adapt to running without getting injured. On the next week do the same thing for 2 rounds (run/ walk), not adding any distance over ½ a mile and maybe adding speed. The the following week do this 3 times.
Once you are run/ walking for 3 rounds 3 times a week and you have not noticed any pain in your feet, calves, etc. then you are ready to work up to a 1-mile run.
Once we are at this 1-mile mark, we are able to run/ walk at our own specific comfort level and able to start working up to running 3.1 miles without stopping. This will be different for everyone but it is a good start. Following a simple progressive overload plan, you can avoid injury and physically prepare for your upcoming race.
If you are working towards your first long-distance race and you have a good current running background, a similar plan is just as easy to implement. Start with a distance you are comfortable with (no run/ walk) and begin there (3-5miles) for each run 2-4 times a week depending on your current weekly mileage. Every week add 1-2 miles a week with a long run once a week.
Shoes To Wear
How do we know what shoes to wear once we start running? There are a million theories out there on good and bad footwear. The evidence is pretty clear that there is no right or wrong. In short, the latest research provides evidence that shoe style has little influence over injury risk. Check out the myth I addressed that “your shoes are the issue” in regard to injury in working out or running. Running or working out injury risk has more to do with your progression overload and your programming or training.
You should wear whatever shoes are the most comfortable. Find a shoe that is comfortable and use it through your training. When you change to new shoes, soreness in weird places is common but with some progressive overload the body will adapt to the shoe and it will be fine. If it does not, then try a different shoe. But do not place much excess thought into this.
What should you eat? Should you carb load before the race? For someone running their first 5k, their 100th 5k, a 10k, or 15k, that distance and time domain does not warrant any special dieting for pre-race outside of eating a normal healthy diet. Eating some extra healthy carbs the night before can be beneficial.
The morning of a run my meal is always the same: a few eggs, a bagel, and usually some coffee. We can get nitty gritty about the perfect meal but it is not necessary. Eat your normal food, but I would keep it less fat based if you are someone who eats bacon, eggs, sausage, etc., as that might not sit well with your stomach on your run. Other than that, do not do anything out of the ordinary, keep eating your normal breakfast.
Post Race Recovery & Feels
After the race, whether you ran a 5k or a 15k, you will likely be a little sore unless it was a distance and time that you frequently run. Being a little sore is A-OK! Even if you have some ankle, heel, calf, foot, or knee pain do not panic. These things are normal when we push our body to its limits. When we move out of our comfort zone our bodies have to learn how to adapt and we adapt to stress. If we stress ourselves too little we never adapt, if we stress ourselves too much we can have pain or even get injured, but if we stress ourselves just enough our body will breakdown and build back up exactly as it is designed to and we are better off because of it.
In a race like this, you may flirt with that perfect amount and the too much amount and then your heel is hurting for a few days after. For example, you may try to run a few days later and you start feeling some sharp pain in your heel after 800m or so. What do you do? What is going on?
When we flirt with that line of too much, pain is normal and not something to be overly concerned about. There are a couple of main things that you should and should not do:
- DO NOT PANIC.
- DO NOT SEARCH GOOGLE. You are welcome to utilize me as a resource, give me a call or message me. Unfortunately, “Googleing” might make you come to false conclusions and you diagnosing yourself with injuries that you do not have. This will not be good for your mindset or actually improving your pain. Read my article where I address the myth that “pain equals damage”.
- Do not completely avoid activity. Read my article where I address the myth that “rest is good for your pain”.
- You should alter the activity that causes your pain to something similar that does not cause you pain. If you are struggling with finding a similar activity, get in touch with me, I would be happy to assist.
- You should continue to exercise fully as long as it does not affect the region that is symptomatic.
- You should have confidence that whatever is going on will absolve in a short amount of time if you let it. If you are not, I would love to help restore your confidence.
If your pain does not start to go away and starts to become a chronic issue, please get in touch with me, as now your pain is becoming an inappropriate response.
If you fear you are injured get in touch with me immediately so we can determine if you are injured and if so, we can address it and determine a rehabilitation plan. If you are not injured, we can determine what is causing your pain that makes you feel injured.
The Movement Dr. is here to educate, empower, create independence and resilience so that you can “ReThink Your Rehab” and outwork everyone! Learn more about The Movement Dr.