As Fall racing season is rapidly approaching, Runner’s High Owner Craig Segal gives you a quick couple of tips as you prepare for your upcoming 1/2 or Full Marathon…
Practice Makes Perfect – If you’ve been into the shop in Freehold or Metuchen, you’ve probably heard one of our friendly staffers say ‘Nothing new on race day’. This applies to multiple aspects of racing, but mainly three things – dinner, apparel and nutrition. When it comes to the night before, everyone wants to know what that one special meal is…you know, the one that will propel you across the finish line like you are drinking rocket fuel? Well, I hate to dash your dreams but that meal does not exist!! What works for me, might not work for you, which most likely won’t work for the next guy. You have to find your routine – find what meal works for you.
The night before your long run each week, you should mimic the meal that you want to eat the night prior to your race. Traveling? Scope out what local restaurants might be in the area and get an idea on what they have to offer. Never tried sushi before in your life? The night before a marathon might not be the best time to try it out. Stick to something basic and repeatable.
As for race-day protocol – you should be practicing your on course nutrition plan each and every long run. Find out what works best for you and test it repeatedly – Gel or Chomps? GU, Hammer or EFS? All are good products and SHOULD work for everyone, however that just isn’t the case. Test out different products over your buildup and find what works for you. Do your research and find out what the on-course drink will be and test that as many times as you can. If that product agrees with you, it will save you from having to wear a fluid belt.
And one final thing to test – your apparel. Don’t pick up new apparel at the race expo and race in it the next day unless you are certain it will work for you. Never wore compression socks before? The day of your race isn’t the first time to try them.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Consistency is king when it comes to training for a longer race like the 1/2 or full marathon. That said, don’t stress out if things don’t go exactly like you planned. Take it from me…they never go exactly as you plan. Missing a day here because you are sick, or shifting a workout around during the week is not the end of the world as long as you are smart about it. Lagging behind in the training? DO NOT try and cram in extra workouts or mileage simply to play catch up. You need to have a realistic idea of where your fitness is at, not where you think your fitness should be at.
Phone a Friend – Let’s face it. Running alone can be a drag. While yes, you sometimes need those days where you go at it solo and lose yourself in your thoughts, running with a friend or group can help keep you motivated. Having trouble getting out of bed and not feeling the run? You are way less likely to skip a day’s training if you have a group or a friend relying on you to show up.
Adjust, Adjust, and Adjust Again – Both prior to the race, and even during the race, don’t be afraid to adjust your race tactics and goals. You’ve had a great build up – nailed all your long runs and workouts to a ‘T’? You are the fittest you’ve ever been? Great. Congratulations. I’m here to tell you that there are still things that can go wrong. Days leading into the race, keep an eye on the weather. Going to be hot and humid? Adjust. Strong head wind? Adjust. Set yourself up with real expectations for what is possible for you on that day given the conditions. Yeah, you might be in shape to run sub 3-hours for the full marathon, but Mother Nature might have different plans, and trust me…Mother Nature always wins.
Don’t be bullish or stubborn and try to fight the conditions. I’ve been there before. It doesn’t end well. Adjust your goals accordingly and while you may run slightly slower than you had wished, you can walk away from the race satisfied in knowing that you put forth a solid effort and tackled the race in a mature fashion. You’ve put too much time and effort into training for you to walk away frustrated and disappointed.
R&R – A little rest and recovery never hurt anyone! After going ‘all-in’ on a fall race – be it 1/2 or Full – your body needs to recover. For me, I generally take 10-14 days completely off from running after completing my main race for the season. You’ve put your body through a lot over the last 12-16 weeks. The only way you can make fitness and physical gains off of a hard race is to allow yourself to recover appropriately. Focus the extra time you’ll have on all the stuff you’ve neglected at work for the last 3 or 4 months, or spend more time with your family and all those that have supported you through your journey this fall.
Craig Segal, Co-Owner of Runner’s High-Freehold has been running since his days as a youth navigating the trails at Holmdel Park. He competed at the prep level at Holmdel High School and moved on to run for Villanova University before competing for Monmouth University as a graduate student. Since graduation, he can be found on the roads, racing anything from the 5k to the marathon. He holds a half marathon best of 1:08:20 and a marathon personal record of 2:25:09. Most recently he was the top New Jersey finisher at the 2015 Boston Marathon. He is admittedly a running shoe geek.