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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Had a Bad Race?

When you have a bad race, take a good look at the past week leading up to that race.  Did you taper? Were you good to your body? Did you make sure to eat healthy and in ways that would optimize your energy levels?

I had a bad race.  It was a half marathon.  It was only my bad race because the event itself was excellent. The Turning Stone Half Marathon was the first year running. Organizers catered to the runner in ways that were over and above the call of duty.  The course was rolling but not in a way that didn't allow the runner to get a good rhythm going over the course of 13.1 miles.  Although the roads were not blocked off, the traffic was light and the roads very well marked for a race in progress.  Timing indicators were located at miles 1, 3, 6, and 10.  Water stops were well dispersed along the course and a porto-potty was set up around mile 11.

This was my week in exercise.  Can you tell what I did wrong?
  • Monday:  cycled 34 minutes. ran 4 1/2 miles and worked with weights on legs and abs.
  • Tuesday: ran 8.35 miles. Worked with weights for chest and arms
  • Wednesday:  ran 6.14 miles.
  • Thursday:  worked with weights for shoulders and back and walked the dog 3 1/2 miles.
  • Friday:  Cycled 16 miles to the Turning Stone for package pickup. Spent 2 1/2 hours walking around waiting for the 5K run at 6 pm.  Ran the 5K at a slow, easy pace (27 minutes).  Cycled home, another 16 miles.
  • Saturday:  Rest day, although I walked the dog 5 miles at a healthy pace. The rest of the day was spent on my feet baking. 
  • Sunday: The Half Marathon

In review, I did not set my self up for a good race on Sunday. Cycling 32 miles, when my longest ride all summer had been 17 miles, was unwise.  The 5K to follow the cycling, no matter how easy, was also not a smart idea.  Being on my feet all day Saturday when I should have rested my legs was the ultimate in securing a bad race.

Race Day:
I did feel good but was not in the mood to push myself.  I decided not to look at the Garmin and to let my body dicatate the pace.  It did. My body dictated a recovery pace which equated to my slowest race pace in a very long time.  1 hour 50 minutes and 47 seconds.  That was 7 minutes off of goal time.

How to set yourself up for a good race:
If you want to have a good race and possibly set a personal record on that day, you must pay attention to all variables at least 5 days prior to the race. Don't ever under estimate a race.  Don't ever take a race course for granted.  Approach the race and the course as if it could be the toughest challenge of your running career.  You will want all the energy you can find to push yourself over the finish line as fast as possible.
1.  Establish your eating plan the week prior to the race. Don't under eat but don't stuff yourself.  Eat protein rich food the first few days of the week with a lot of fiber  and moderate carbohydrates.  Three days prior to the race, increase your carbohydrates with a balance of lean protein and quality fiber. The day before the race, increase the carbohydrates, decrease the protein to about 15- 20 grams per meal (x 3), limit fat intake and moderate fiber.  Remember: Carbohydrates can cause constipation so you do have to eat fiber and drink a lot of water. No alcohol.
2.  Taper your workout.  If you are currently running 40 to 50 miles per week, decrease your miles to half that distance or less. It depends on the person.  If you feel the need to get a long run in before your race, do it five days prior to the race.  Give yourself a day off before the race and make sure to limit the time on your feet. Try to read a good book, watch a favorite movie. 
3.  Decide if you are going to run a race where you will exert yourself or if you are going to sit back and enjoy the experience.  Stick to your plan and be happy with your decision.

Be prepared to live with your decision.  If you don't run all out, if you take it easy, don't beat yourself up after the race for not trying harder.  There will be more races.

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