The only way to reach your goals is to control the controllable. Know the difference between what is in your control and what things you can’t change. Don’t beat yourself up over things that are out of your control. If you went out drinking after your last workout of the week before your race and then had a bad race, that is one-hundred percent in your control and that would be why your race didn’t go as planned. You can’t control how other people train or how others are going to race. So if your goal is to beat someone then that isn’t a very good goal. You need specific goals leading up to race day that can help you become better to beat that person. Some specific goals that can help you place high in races would involve sleep, nutrition, enough rest days between long runs and workouts, strength training and etc.
Your body needs a lot of water and rest after your long runs and your workouts in order to repair itself making you stronger and faster. One of my biggest goals that I pay attention the most to is getting enough sleep the night before the race as well as the nights prior. Make sure you are taking good care of your body since you will be putting it through a lot of stress and pain, the goal is to get better not to injure yourself.
As for food, everyone’s body reacts differently to what they consume right before they race. The only way that I have found to be helpful to avoid the stomach aches is by treating your long runs and workouts like a race. Go through the same routine that you have on race day except experiment a little bit to see which foods and drinks give you more energy and which ones make you feel like crap. It’s not as easy as it sounds, it will take time for you to figure out what is your “perfect” meal. I’ve been running and racing for many years and at times I still struggle with consuming the right foods and drinks prior to race time. And if you’re a runner you know how painful and annoying it is when you have a bad stomach ache during a run because of food, which is something that is under your control and it should motivate you more to figure out what works for you. When you run you want to be able to solely focus on pushing your body and focusing on your form not holding in the chocolate chip cookie you consumed 15 minutes before you started running. For me, I have to stop eating all foods at least 1.5-2 hours before I race and I eat my last small meal about 3 hours before my scheduled race time. As for the types of foods I consume, I stay away from anything acidic, especially apples, they do not sit well before a race. And that is exactly what I do before my workouts to help prepare my body for race day, which is what really matters.
The secret to make running easy and still getting results part 1.
Practice, practice, practice. I hate to be the barer of bad news, but there is no secret remedy to making running an easy thing to do, the only way to get better is to run consistently, do everything in moderation, and have a plan of attack. Whether you’re training for a fun run with friends and you don’t want to embarrass yourself, or you are looking to find ways to improve your race times and overall health. Consistency is key. Set a time to run every day whether it’s early in the morning or after work, set a schedule and keep it! It won’t just help your recovery; it will also help you get your butt out the door.
The more you take care of your body, the easier it will be to progress over time. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat a piece of chocolate cake or indulge in a glass of wine ever again. The key to everything is moderation. I believe that you can eat whatever you want as long as you don’t binge eat it. Being a collegiate athlete in both cross country and track, I used to think that I had to cut out all my favorite junk foods out of my diet in order to be healthy and get the results that I wanted. I lasted a solid month without any greasy or junk foods and then one day I caved and binge ate a crap ton of bad food. If you’re one of those people that can eat healthy 24/7 and don’t need any sweets or greasy foods to be satisfied, then more power to you. Unfortunately, that is not how my body or brain functions, and it’s healthy to treat yourself every once and awhile. Running is meant to be a healthy and fun activity, not something that you dread doing everyday. My best cross country season was when I was eating dark chocolate almost every day after lunch. Something I have found that works for me is eating one or two squares of the 70% or greater dark chocolate candy bar. And that would somehow halt my cravings at night for a greasy bag of potato chips, or going to the store and buying a gallon of ice cream.
The third “Secret” to making running easier is to have a plan of attack. There will always be modifications or other changes that you will need to make but your plan doesn’t have to be set and stone.
Below I have a sample running plan of a 2 week progression for someone that has been inconsistently running on and off, but has established a baseline. If you’re someone that runs a few times a year cut down the mileage substantially at first and then slowly work up to this. And if you’re an individual who races frequently and runs more mileage just use this as a guideline to know when you should take rest days and get a better idea of a routine if you don’t have one already.
||Easy run for 10-15 minutes.
||Easy 20 minute run and stretching emphasis
||Cruise run for 30 minutes
Abs and circuits
|Bike for 30 minutes OR Day Off
||Cruise run for 35 minutes. Abs and circuits
||Long run for 37 minutes. 1-3 strides
|| Easy run for 20 minutes.
|| Cruise run for 30 minutes.
|| Cross train for 30 minutes.
|| Cruise run for 25 minutes.
|| Cruise run for 38 minutes. Abs and circuits.
||Long run for 43 minutes. 1-3 strides