Racing Tips & Fun Facts
Get the Skinny on Stress—Improve Race Performance by Keeping your Cool
Tend to feel stressed before races? You’re doing more harm than you may realize. Anxiety causes the body to secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine, which reduce your energy level and lead to premature fatigue. So take time before races to try a few yoga positions, do deep breathing exercises while stretching, take a relaxing walk around the block—whatever it takes to feel calm.
Dealing with Sickness—To Train or Not to Train
You’re following your training plan perfectly, then sickness strikes. Do you sit out a few days or keep the runs going? Try the "neck check":
- If symptoms are solely above your neck, like a runny nose or mild sore throat, you should be safe running. Start slowly and assess your comfort level after five to ten minutes. If you feel strong and energized, continue. If not, take the day off.
- If symptoms are below your neck, like vomiting, diarrhea, fever or muscle aches, take a break from training. Consult your doctor before running again.
Jump-start Your Energy Level Before Morning Races—Carbs to the Rescue
Before morning races, eat a breakfast with at least 30 grams of carbohydrates. After a night’s sleep, the body’s glycogen levels are depleted, so a quick carbo-fix will provide a noticeable jump-start to your energy level.
Stay Strong During Training—Avoid Shin Splints
Shin splints are one of the most common complaints of new runners. The term refers to shin pain caused by exercise, although the source could be muscle, soft tissue or bone injuries.
Are you a likely candidate for shin splints?
Common risk factors include:
- exercise after an extended period of inactivity
- training that increases in distance or speed too quickly for the body to adjust
- old shoes with worn-out treads (replacement is recommended after 350 miles)
- past stress fractures
- problems with muscle strength or flexibility
- running on uneven surfaces
To treat shin splints, talk to your doctor. Depending on the severity of the problem, typical treatments include:
- over-the-counter pain medications
- exercises to improve muscle balance and strength in the lower legs
- adjustment to your running style or gait
- inserts or orthotics
Recovery Days - Necessary or a Waste of Time?
Be aware of your body’s limitations and always build in recovery days after hard runs. Structured training programs will provide a good balance of longer runs and easy runs or days of rest. If you’re training independently be aware of the risks of overtraining.
Signs of Overtraining - Know when to Cut Back
Experiencing insomnia? Unusual muscle aches? Irritability? Loss of appetite? Pay attention—these are common signs of overtraining. If you feel you’re hitting a brick wall in your training, it doesn’t always mean you should push harder. Even depression and diminishing performance can indicate a need to cut down on your weekly runs and give your body more rest.
If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or a personal trainer. They can offer specific advice on adjusting your training regime to maximize performance and minimize negative results.
Don't Let Ankle Strain Keep You Down—Four Easy Steps to Treat Ankle Injuries
At some point in their training, many runners accidentally roll their ankles over while landing from a misstep or jump. Talk to your doctor about long-term treatment, but minimize early swelling using RICE:
Stay Energized During Races - Beat Runner's Fatigue
Runner's fatigue is primarily caused by fuel and fluid depletion. To keep your energy level at its peak, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 10 ounces of fluid with 150 mg of sodium and 60 carbohydrate calories every 30 minutes. Start this approach during training; it’ll take some time to adjust to exercising with so much fluid in your GI tract. At first your sloshing stomach may be a distraction, but eventually you’ll get used to it and your performance should noticeably improve.
Looking for the right sodium and carbohydrate mix? Try sports drinks like Gatorade, Allsport, Powerade, Accelerade, GU2O and Cytomax.
Keep up the Carbs with Replacement Gels
Replacement gels like Cliff Shot or GU are good sources of extra carbohydrates during runs. Always drink a cup of water with these gels to prevent cramping and maximize glucose absorption.