Guest Post: Preparing for Race Season

He's back! Our friendly Mid-Distance Runner has tips to preparing for your race season!Well it’s officially race season!

I was a high school and middle school track coach for many years, and the official start to the spring outdoor track season was March 1st. This date was the mark for sanctioned training and conference races.  For myself, as a competitive distance runner, this time of year means serious training and preparation for events that occur from now through late fall. (I don’t know about you, but I like to take the winter off from races!)

Even in March, the weather in many areas can still present a formidable barrier for runners to get outside and run, but with a little creativity, race goals and preparation need not be sacrificed.  I personally hate training on treadmills, however, using them beats sustaining an injury from slipping and falling on slick surfaces outside. The lousy weather offers a perfect time for other modalities such as weight training. Spending some time in the weight room will help runners develop muscle strength, speed, and stamina.  Strength training will also help develop connective tissue in the body, which will go a long way to prevent injuries during the race season.

Now when you read "weight training," some may conjure up mental images of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but runner’s weight training is all about developing strength and power, not necessarily mass. (Note from Kelsey: Charlie wrote a splendid series (an epic novel, really) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)  Utilizing resistance training to develop overall strength is very beneficial for racing.  Shameless plug, but I recommend talking with the dedicated folks at SAPT for exact exercises and proper weight lifting form.

What is the best way to train for a 5K or 10K road race? The advice pertaining to success are as numerous as the different courses one can run.  A specific training plan might not be perfect for every runner, but there are some collective preparations that will help almost every runner do his or her best on race day.

First I recommend a basic 5K or 10K training schedule such as the one outlined here from Jeff Galloway:  This training schedule is from running legend Jeff Galloway so you know you can trust the information on it.  On a side note if you are interested in training for a marathon this site also has some great training schedules for that distance too.

Next item to consider is proper nutrition as optimal fuel is essential for optimal performance.  There is a plethora of runner’s diet suggestions, but I find they all universally agree: avoid trans fats and refined sugars as much as possible, limit alcohol consumption, avoid large amounts of caffeine-I personally love my coffee so this one is hard for me. (Note from Kelsey- by refraining from copious amounts of caffeine, you body will become more sensitive to it. Therefore, on race day, one cup of coffee will go a long way.)  Eat plenty of starchy carbs as well as lean protein sources such as clean-source fish, lean beef, and chicken.

The last major consideration for race success is quality sleep. In order to perform at your best you need to get enough sleep for your body to efficiently recover daily. Check out this article on sleep quality for more information.  Rest up folks, and don’t try to burn the candle at both ends!

If you get plenty of rest, train right, and eat right you are setting yourself up for success by using best training practices.  In April I will discuss effective training versus logging lots of physical miles.  Well until our next conversation take care and enjoy the run!

The Middle-Aged Mid-Distance Runner