Monday, November 15, 2010

On race day--DON'T overdress!

Coming off this weekend's marathon, I was reminded once again of how many people overdress for their marathons. People--just say no!

The general rule for running is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer than it is. If it is sunny, then take it down even more. I know it can be cold at the start of a race, but that's where throwaway clothes come in. Don't give into the temptation to overdo your clothing--you'll only pay for it later.

An example--at my marathon on Saturday, the start was only in the upper 30s, but it was sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I dressed in shorts, a singlet, and added a long-sleeved throwaway shirt on top. Standing at the start in the sun, it became apparent that I wasn't going to need that shirt even for one mile, so I tossed it before the gun went off. I did, however, keep my gloves on. This was perfect. By about mile 6 or so, I had taken off the gloves. By the final miles, I was a bit warm. I can't imagine how I would have felt if I had more on.

As the miles passed by, I saw runner after runner overdressed, some in full tights and long-sleeved shirts. And you know what? Those were the people who faded. You see, when you overdress, you sweat--a ton! And that sweat contains valuable electrolytes that your muscles need. Don't throw your race by overdoing the clothing.

Remember--if you're not cold when you start and for the first 10 minutes or so, you've got too much on. Practice it until you get it right. Your legs will thank you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mastering Master's

As I've pointed out before, I'm a master's runner. For me, and most people over 40, that means that running today is a bit different than it was 10 years ago. Not different bad, but different in the sense that I've had to make a few changes to how I train.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the tips I've learned and recommend for staying healthy, and speedy, after 40:

* Recover after races and hard efforts--It used to be that I could race a 1/2 Ironman on a Sunday and be back on the track doing speedwork two days later. No longer! I find that recovery takes longer these days so I always reward my race efforts with an easy week. I also make sure I am feeling fresh before adding in a second day of speed; often I stick to just one speed session/week. I don't find this hurts my times any, but it goes a long way towards keeping me healthy.
* Strength train--Once you're in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass. If you don't do adequate strength training, that loss can add up to injury from muscle imbalances.
* Stretch--Just like muscle strength, flexibility takes a dive as you age. Take the time to stretch after each run. Bonus points for yoga or pilates.
* Cross-train--I love to swim and I find that getting in the pool even once or twice a week helps my body work out the kinks from running. A short spin on the bike can help as well. It's all about keeping those non-running muscles engaged to help support your running muscles.
* Eat a healthy diet--It's important no matter what your age, but as you get older, getting those nutrients, carbs and protein into your system at the right time and in the right quantity count more than ever.
* Rest--Time off your feet, preferably asleep, helps your muscles repair damage.
* Get a massage when needed--If you have the time and money, do it regularly. If not, get one when you feel your body breaking down or after a long/hard race.

I hope these ideas help. Feel free to add any others--I'm always in the hunt for ways to keep my body healthy and feeling like it did 10 years ago!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fight the post-race blues

Quite often, when we train for a big event, we spend months concentrating on it. We sacrifice for it, obsess over it, and then, the big day comes. No matter how it turns out, there's sure to be a letdown afterwards. Here's how to get beyond it:
  • If you just completed your big event, no doubt you put some things aside while training. Maybe you skipped a girls night out; maybe your closets and drawers could use some attention; or perhaps there are some volunteer opportunities in which you've wanted to partake. Whatever the case may be, now is a great time to refocus your energy on the things you've neglected.
  • Look for some crosstraining opportunities. Do you like to ride you bike? Swim? Or maybe try something new like rock climbing. Now is the perfect time to switch it up and give your tired running muscles a break.
  • Look at the race calendar for next year. Pick out a few events and start thinking (not training) about them. This will help you get excited about your running and avoid the letdown the often follows big events.
  • Rest! Your body needs it. The easiest time to get injured is when jumping right back into hard training after a big event. Even if you feel "fine," deep down your muscles need this break. You've earned it, now take it.