Part 2 of You’ve Picked Your Event … now what?
Last month I shared a list of suggestions for how to prepare for your fall target race to assure that you move forward without losing that motivation and energy in the process. Ways to prepare; organize your schedule, find your people, etc.
How can the world feel so different in a matter of weeks?! There is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of unknowns about the coming months. What with running so often a metaphor for how we can approach the rest of our lives, perhaps this final list of ways to prepare for training can benefit you well beyond the time you spend on the roads.
- Build your toolkit. It’s tricky to determine what you need along a journey that you have never traveled. There are the obvious key tools for anyone training for any kind of event that include your footwear package (shoes, insoles/orthotics, and socks) and a sports bra for the ladies. But it takes more than that so now is the time to test things out; sample different nutrition brands to see what your body prefers. Try to workout in different locations, indoors and out so you know your options when you need a change of scenery; and you will. Test a new recovery tool, take a foam rolling or yoga class, download an app you’ve heard about.
- Questions to ask: What fuel will get me there? Which training program will I follow? What will I do when roadblocks occur? Do I have the tools to keep me safe/seen/aware of my surroundings? Am I prone to injury? What are my goals for this event?
- Additional reading: Do Running Shoes Have a Shelf Life?
- Pace yourself. Running is all about adaptability. Can you coach your body to get comfortable with that spot just outside your comfort zone and then keep pushing & expanding? If you are always going too hard, your body will a) resist adaptation, and b) let you know! It will let you know with an injury, by peaking too early, or by never quite maximizing that potential inside you. That’s why this preparation is so important. And this isn’t just about speed. Pace your physical, mental, and emotional energy. Your body does not distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ stress so too much mental energy spent at work can have a toll on your workout efforts (and not just because you run out of hours in the day). When there are a lot of unknowns about our community’s and our country’s health like there are right now, a workout is a great tool. But don’t be surprised of you feel more tired than usual.
- Questions to ask: Am I just outside my comfort zone? Am I moving at a pace I can maintain (in a specific workout and life in general)? What can I master and then add to as I progress? Are there things that I can anticipate that will be hurdles in my training that I will need to pace myself thru?
- Additional Reading: To Celebrate 50, Jen Neary Runs a Marathon
- Learn about yourself. It’s hard not to learn about yourself thru running. What gets you excited? What assures your success? What gets in your way? What are you capable of?! I find running to be very meditative; it’s where I have my deep thoughts. And if you have never heard of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, take her 5-minute quiz and prepare to have your mind BLOWN. In a nutshell, we all respond differently to internal and external expectations. It’s why some of you will only get a workout in because your running buddy texts you in the AM while others will never miss a run.
- Questions to ask: When am I at my best? What motivates me? What will be my biggest challenge on this journey? Why (that really down deep WHY) did I sign up for this race?
- Additional reading: 5 Tips to Crush Your First 5K (or Any Race)
- Stay in your lane. RUN YOUR OWN RACE. Ooh boy, comparison can mess things up, can’t it! It might motivate you, but it can knock the wind out of your sails if you are measuring your success with someone else’s ruler. The bottom line is that looking around is okay if you are gathering information to make a more informed decision about your training or your efforts, but if you’re using it to make a judgement about your own ability, then you’ve got the wrong idea. If you’re learning about yourself as you go, gather that data and apply it and keep learning. Everyone has a different injury threshold. Everyone has different obstacles to overcome. Everyone deserves to celebrate their journey. Even you. When you focus on your journey, Running Changes EVERYTHING.
- Additional reading: How Stress Affects Athletic Performance
About the author: Leah Schapiro, Fleet Feet Fox Valley, is a 4-time Ironman Finisher, 8-time Marathoner, and dreams of re-finding the balance to follow her own training advice & to eventually get back to a sub-1:50 half marathon. That is not the current chapter, which is OK. She loves sharing her thoughts with other athletes and LOVES writing in all-caps. She’s not yelling, she’s just SO. EXCITED. about your goals!!