No matter how well my training is going, there is still a seed of doubt about whether I’ll be able to do a personal best on that day. This is normal behavior I am told from my running friends, and it is basically for me to learn how to cope with the pre-run jitters.
The key is to think about all the hard training I have done, and how good I will feel crossing the line. A positive mindset and being prepared before race day will never let me down to perform well.
Here are my top 5 racing tips before I lace up my shoes:
What helps settle my pre-race jitters is the night before I figure out what to wear. I dress for the weather conditions and wear moist wicking fabrics to keep me dry and comfortable. I also choose the shoes that are best for the distance I am doing. In addition, I bring an extra change of clothes, socks and comfortable shoes to change into afterwards.
Before lining up to the start I double knot my shoe laces to trip in the race which has almost happened once.
Two other items I bring are Vaseline and Bandaids.
To keep me warm before the start I wear a top that I don’t want and can discard it when the gun goes off.
2. Nutrition/Hydrate – The night before, I eat light- for example plain tomato sauce with pasta- I avoid anything too spicy and creamy sauces that will upset my stomach. Lunch is my last big meal before any race day. The morning of, I usually have oatmeal with brown sugar and fruit with milk. That is all I need before the run.
If it is a half marathon or a longer distance I will bring an energy bar and have it halfway through the race. Avoid eating too close to race start as this could lead to problems during the race. Also, I also keep hydrated leading up to the race. Most big races have water and/or energy drink on the course.
3. Rest – I make sure to have a good sleep the night before. The previous day to the race, I stay off my feet and relax to music.
4. Stretching- I stretch after my warm-up before the run and after the race. I also do a cool down afterwards. I stretch all of my muscle groups, including calves, quads, hamstrings, groins, I-T bands, arms, upper and lower back.
5. Start slow, finish strong works for me. I start slow and then I make up the time later. While running I keep my shoulders low and relaxed and pump my arms, especially on the hill sections. Suggestion: have a realistic goal. Write on a wrist band the times you are hoping to achieve at 5 kms, 10 kms, 15 kms and 20 kms.
I try to run my own race and don’t compare myself to others. This will keep me focused, relaxed – the end result I will be running smoothly.
As a runner, following a proper program and eating healthy is the perfect recipe for optimum performance and life long running. When I started training for my first 10k, little did I know how important what and how much I was eating could hurt my training.
At the time, I wasn’t making good food choices or eating well balanced meals. I would also skip breakfast or not make the time to eat. This was a huge mistake as I was often depleted after a workout. I also felt low in energy before the workout. The end result my running had suffered and this unmotivated to run.
Taking some time off not from running, I instead looked carefully at my diet. I realized running 5 days per week my body needed more nourishment. Skipping breakfast wasn’t working and eating creamy sauces the night before a long training run had given me an upset stomach.
If I wanted to continue training and see the finish line I needed to change my eating habits.
After doing some research into how to properly fuel my body and seeking advice from a dietitian I began to change my eating habits.
Here are my top 5 healthy eating tips 101 that I still use today:
1. Eat breakfast on a regular basis
Having breakfast fuels my body. I have a lot more energy before the run. Here is what I have on a regular basis – oatmeal with a bit of milk, brown sugar and some fruit. Give yourself a couple of hours before running.
I enjoy having one cup of coffee before heading out the door. I would have though a glass of water to keep hydrated.
2. Make the time to eat – your body will love you
Sometimes it is hard to make the time to eat. If you don’t have the time, bring a snack with you. Snack bar or granola bar and a piece of fruit to get through the workout or afterwards depending how much time you can digest it.
3. Follow a proper meal plan – eat carbs, protein and unsaturated fats. Carbs like a bagel gives me a lot of energy and having pasta, plain sauce with no creamy sauce the night before a big run.
4. Avoid foods that will upset your stomach. If you are not sure try it before the race. I love yogurt but discovered having some before a run upsets my stomach.
5. Keep hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you and drink sips of water throughout the day. Suggested to drink at least 2 liters a day or 8 glasses of water a day.
After a hard effort in a race, my stomach cannot handle food. What I have is a sports drink instead which has electrolytes.
Listening to your body is the key to knowing what foods work for you. See a registered dietitian for advice or more information about following healthy eating for your training.
When I first started running, adding any cross training into my workouts wasn’t important …..so I thought until the day I tore my hamstring. It was a day to remember as I was in pain but also upset because I couldn’t run…not even walk properly. My world came crashing down and I didn’t know how I could live without running. It was caused from overtraining and having a poor core. Despite the fact I was in good shape, little did I know incorporating some cross training would have made me a stronger and healthier runner.
My visit to my physio suggested I pool run for six weeks. Six weeks seemed an eternity at the time, but I did what I was told. I didn’t enjoy it at first but knew it was the only activity to keep my fitness. I pool ran three times a week, and once a week, I would be in the pool for about two hours. This would be considered my long run, mimicking as close as possible if I were running.
During that time I learned about the benefits of cross training and I found water running had given my legs a break as it is low impact. It also added variety to my workouts. I learned to love pool running and still do at times.
Fast forwad, these days I still cross train, but I go to the gym and work on my core strength. I am injury free ever since and my running has improved.
What I benefitted the most from cross training is that I learned about a new activity such as pool running, pilates and core exercises..
Whether you are new or a seasoned runner it is never too late to add cross training into your workouts. Whether you are injured or not cross training has many benefits. It will improve your running and keep you in the game. Visit a personal trainer to get you on the right program.
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When I first started running, I had inadvertently adopted a few poor running habits that zapped my energy and caused me to run slower. To get the most out of my running performance and to stay injury free meant developing good running habits. This is always the key to healthy lifelong running.
I was new to the sport of running and had picked up poor running habits -which was easy to do. Having a busy schedule led to my thinking that stretching wasn’t important anymore, and neither was checking the weather conditions. The ramifications, however, can be substantial. By not stretching all of your muscle groups after a run, you are setting yourself up for injury that can shelve your running for six weeks or more. And being unaware of an approaching storm or sudden change in temperature can leave you unprotected from the elements at the worst possible time.
Here are my top five tips for adopting a more efficient running style:
- Stretching is not only a workout in itself, it’s an essential component to running that offers many benefits, such as improving your athletic performance through increased flexibility, while substantially lowering your risk of injury. Surprisingly, there are many runners that still don’t stretch. Stretching should be done after a 10-minute warm up jog, and again following your workout when your muscles are warm. Hold each stretch for 60 seconds or do two sets consisting of 30 seconds for each stretch.
- Carrying your shoulders high and swinging your hands across your body are counter-productive and will deplete your energy, resulting in poor running economy. To correct this you should run relaxed with your shoulders low. Focus on pumping your arms front to back, and your feet will follow. This allows you to conserve energy, especially while running uphill.
- Give yourself at least 90 minutes to digest your food before running, otherwise you may experience muscle cramps or an upset stomach. Always carry a water bottle for longer runs, or choose a route where water is accessible along the way.
- Avoid clenching your fists, especially as you become increasingly tired. Keeping your hands relaxed will help you to maintain control without cramping or side stitches.
- Always dress for the weather conditions – especially at night – for safety. Wear bright, neon, glow-in-the-dark garments with lights, so you can be seen by cars, buses, bikes, etc. For colder weather, wear layers that can be peeled off, carried, and re-deployed as needed. Older shoes lose their cushioning properties and can lead to injuries such as shin splints.
Before going for that run or participating in an event I always double-tie my laces to avoid losing time in a race or wasting time on a training run. I also wear sun screen, even when running on shaded routes. Suggestion-I wear a running cap with brim that will protect my eyes all year round from the sun and the elements.
Hopefully by following these tips your experience will be that much more enjoyable in the long run. Pun intended!
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Spring is here and so is allergy season. There is good news however for allergy sufferers who run, as their condition may now be controlled and prevented if necessary steps are taken. After suffering for long enough, I decided to visit my doctor to learn which of many allergy medications would be the most suitable. I was diagnosed with rhinitis (hay fever) and was prescribed with Flonase (nasal spray) and Reactine,which are taken before the workout and have certainly helped to make my running experience more manageable.
Back in 2001 when I was living in South Korea, my sinuses had to be drained because of extremely high air pollution and more pollen than I could handle…not conducive to comfortable running.
It is difficult enough to run but to have hay fever on top of that makes your workout less enjoyable. So seeking tips as to how to go about diminishing symptoms was my goal during a phone interview with Dr. Jack Taunton, who was chief medical officer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
Dr. Taunton stated” I discovered that certain regions across North America are harsher than others when it comes to allergies. The West Coast of British Columbia is a particularly troublesome place for allergy sufferers because of the vast amount of forested areas and voluminous species of plants and grasses.”
Dr. Taunton further alluded to some people being allergic to certain foods, such as strawberries, some vegetables, dust and pet dander that may trigger an allergic reaction, adding, “Some triathletes are even allergic to certain types of chlorine in the pool,” also showing that for some unlucky people there is no escape. He suggested seeing an allergist (specialist) when symptoms become difficult to manage and to isolate exactly what type of allergy you have.
To summarize, your allergies are caused by the environment or certain foods, according to Dr. Taunton, and the best we can do is try to manage the situation. So what can you do to enjoy your workouts more? “Try breathing more through your mouth,” says Dr. Taunton. Try running when the pollen counts are lowest (check the weather report), wear sunglasses to prevent itchy, watery eyes. Avoid running on trails or in parks at the most dangerous times (for your allergies). Before your workouts, take an antihistamine medication like Reactine. Nasal sprays and eye drops are often available by prescription only. Allergy shots may be the answer and it is also suggested that Green Tea may help provide relief. As already mentioned, however, the best idea is to visit your doctor first to find out if you do suffer from an allergy condition.
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For more information about her book Prepare To Push™ – What Your Pelvic Floor andAbdomen Want You to Know about Pregnancy and Birth and her program, go to www.preparetopush.com
On a typical morning before work, I am out the door by 5:30. The Vancouver streets are quiet and mostly deserted, except for a regular runner ahead of me with a frisky, four legged friend at his side. The pair always look happy, enjoying each other’s company on these cold winter mornings. They were like dance partners in perfect synch, running step for step. It made a delightful picture. A dog may be the most reliable companion to share in your running journey, because they are always ready when you are.
Does this image inspire you to run or walk with your dog?
There are many benefits to running with your dog, including keeping you both fit and enjoying bonding time with your favourite furry friend. They also provide comforting security, especially for women who run by themselves in secluded areas. But, before going for that run or walk with your wiener dog, dachshund, or pug, however, knowing the dos and don’ts of running with your pet could save you both a lot of grief and injury.
According to Vancouver-based veterinarian Dr. Kathy Kramer, you can’t just decide one day to go running with your dog. Owners need to be committed to their pet first. “Running requires training, since most dogs like to sniff along the way and get easily distracted,” she said. “Not every dog is cut out to be a marathoner. Common sense dictates that while you may try to run with your border collie, you would leave your bulldog or Chihuahua at home.”
The best runners are athletic breeds, or dogs over 20 kilograms, Kramer explained. It’s important to do your research. For example, greyhounds are sprinters and not long distance runners while labradors, golden retrievers, border collies, and German shepherds may enjoy the freedom of a marathon. Larger dogs like great danes or mastiffs won’t enjoy running because it will put pressure on their joints.
Training for any distance requires following a proper program, and it is the same principle when running with your dog.
“Dogs also require conditioning like people do,” Kramer said. “A person would be crazy to start out by running 10 kilometres, so don’t expect your dog to do it! The same wear and tear that affects a person’s joints will affect a dog’s as well. Acute injuries, such as soft tissue sprains or ligament tears can happen quickly. As the dog ages, the percussive forces of running can cause arthritis to start at an earlier age.”
When you and your dog encounter someone on the trail, it is best to pull off to the side to let them pass without interacting. A dog might be occasionally spooked and one should not assume others want your dog to greet them. People will feel safer when the lead is shortened.
Some smaller breeds will love running and some larger dogs would rather be couch potatoes. A good running companion depends on personality, stamina, and overall health. Dogs with high stress levels may not be able to run in the city. Dogs that are prone to heart disease should be thoroughly screened for starting a serious exercise program.
It is also important to remember that dogs are stoic creatures who won’t show pain or discomfort until there is real damage. Heat stroke is the biggest risk during the summer. Dogs only sweat through their footpads and can easily overheat, even in normal temperatures. Always have water handy for your dog anytime you run. If your dog is limping, call your veterinarian. Sprains or ligament tears can be very painful even though your dog is not crying out or will let you touch the injured limb.
There is some debate about the best age to start training your dog to run. Most dogs have finished growing by 16-24 months. Kramer says if you start slow and on a soft surface, you can start to train the dog at around 12-18 months.
Will you try running with your dog this spring? Let us know in the comments below!
Nikki Scott’s survival in 2005 was not guaranteed. A car accident resulted in a broken back and ribs, and a dislocated collar bone and sternum. A disc in her neck was herniated and both of her lungs collapsed. A serial marathon runner, doctors told her she would never be able to run again.
But against all odds, in 2008, she completed her first half marathon.
For most people, coming back from a debilitating accident like that in just four years would have been impossible. But Scott had to undergo a second incident in August of this year. The Surrey, B.C. native’s world would change again when she took a serious fall, resulting in a deep cut, a bacterial infection, and a subsequent battle to keep her limbs.
“A few friends and I were out for a run in Golden Ears (Provincial Park),” she said. “We had our route planned – but soon after we got started we came up on a bear so we quickly turned around and headed back to the cars. I turned to say something to my friend and I caught my toe on a rock and wiped out. I landed on my knees and when I flipped over to sit down, both of my friends kind of gasped. Sure enough, I had a huge, bloody gash and a great big skin flap flipped open on my knee.”
“I kind of panicked when I realized that I could actually see my kneecap in the bottom of the wound,” Scott said, adding, “We all took a deep breath and started going through the first aid supplies in our packs. Luckily we had water, gauze and antiseptic wipes so we cleaned it up as best we could, covered it in gauze and wrapped my knee.”
They headed to Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock where she got the wound cleaned up and stitched back together. She was sent home. Everything appeared to be fine.
However, the next morning, her entire leg was burning with pain. She was given some painkillers and antibiotics and sent home yet again. An hour later, she was heading to Langley Memorial Hospital by ambulance.
Scott’s leg was infected and the doctors started her with multiple IV antibiotics.
“Over the next four days, the infection raged and spread from my toes to my ribs. My leg and torso were swollen to twice their size. The pain was unbearable and they had to keep switching the antibiotics, but the infection wasn’t responding. By the end of the week my kidneys had also failed, so they sent me off to Surrey Memorial, labelled ‘loss of life or limb’ and I was admitted into critical care,” Scott said.
She was diagnosed with Cellulitis and spent the next 20 days in hospital before her wound responded to antibiotics. The wound, luckily, healed in about three months. Scott says the infection was “stubborn and resistant”, but she is starting to return to her regular life. A month after coming home she was able to ditch the crutches and start doing physical activity again.
“I started doing very short, 30 second intervals of ‘running’ on the treadmill. Because of the atrophy in my muscles, I have been taking things very slowly so I don’t cause new injuries, but have been working my way up to longer intervals of running and walking.”
Scott found that being fit helped her on her road to recovery. “Having that background of setting goals and devising a strategy and a plan to get there has definitely helped me figure out what I need to do to beat this injury,” she says.
Surviving a major car accident and the slow recovery process taught Scott to listen to her body and following the leg infection she also had to take it slow and let the pain and fatigue levels guide her.
Scott, a mother of two young boys, has completed 20 half marathons, five full marathons, and four ultra-marathons. She is refusing to let physical setbacks keep her from continuing her running.
“I was determined not to let my car accident beat me or define me and it has been kind of similar following this infection,” she said. “My end goal is to get my strength back and be able to run distance again, so I’ve just been setting small, manageable goals.”
Recovery strategies are not one-size-fits-all, so consult your doctor about when you should resume training. Once you do, make sure refuelling, repairing and rehydrating are part of your workout regime to help you reach your goals.
Over 28,000 fans attended the Canada vs. USA Women’s soccer game held at BC Place, Vancouver, BC. It was the largest crowd ever at a national women’s match.
After watching the game, I decided to revisit the similarities between soccer players and runners, specifically the need for athletes in both sports to move for long periods of time without rest. It could be argued that soccer requires more stamina than other team sports because 120 minutes of play, including overtime, is common before a shootout decides the winner. By comparison, a regular season NHL hockey game is 65 minutes, including five minutes of O.T. before the shootout, and NBA basketball games are 48 minutes before unlimited mini-halves of overtime – rare in basketball – decide the outcome. MLB baseball, with its superb athletes, does not operate on the clock at all, though a typical nine-inning game takes about two hours and 30 minutes to play, with mega-stops and delays added in. Even the tiring effects of physical contact from football, hockey and basketball don’t balance because of rest time that’s built into the stoppages. Soccer, which has its own share of contact, rarely stops play.
Runners, like soccer players, are challenged by speed and the need for stamina and endurance. A world class runner can complete a marathon between 125 to 130 minutes — roughly the time it takes to play a soccer match.
Soccer players do a lot of sprinting in addition to their constant running back and forth on the field. Overall, to be competitive and on top of their game, they need both speed and endurance.
Interval training for marathoners and running drills for soccer players helps increases speed and can benefit both athletes. Running downhill is good for developing strong quads. Running uphill will increase lung capacity and stamina. When you add strength, focus, and mental toughness to the mix, you get a clear picture of what soccer players and runners share every day. All athletes need to stretch every muscle group before and after a workout or match.
As for where the similarities end, soccer players explode for bursts of speed, which requires balance, control, and strength. These factors are what separate the soccer platers from runners, who simply have to focus on a singular task. It’s a sport that is up tempo and uses considerable physical and mental reflexes…and lots and lots of running. I was incredibly impressed.
Photo credit: D. Laird Allan