It’s the most wonderful time of the year … if you’re a runner, that is. Autumn is a favourite season of runners for a few reasons. Fall weather is perfect for running outdoors. The temperature isn’t too hot or too cold and the humidity of summer has lifted which makes breathing far more comfortable. Shopping for warmer running gear appeals to the fashionista runners as they trade in their shorts and sleeveless t’s for capris and short sleeve shirts. According to these runners wearing gear that isn’t seasonal would be, well, wrong. For this runner, and many like me, it’s marathon season! We love feeling the cool, crisp fall air on a 6am run while visions of running shoes, ipods and finish lines dance our heads. Another bonus to fall race season: guilt free carbo-loading!
At work, my colleagues who are also runners congregate in the kitchen to do what else but drink water, eat, share war stories and training tips. Some of these stories aren’t for the faint of heart but if you’ve ever done any kind of long distance running you know that already. We agree to disagree on certain running principles and training strategies but there are also some that are a consensus among the group. Here are a few tips to make training season enjoyable and help you prepare for a good race.
1. Eat plenty of carbohydrates. 65% of your calories should come from carbs to fuel your runs. Carbo-loading doesn’t mean you stuff yourself at dinner the night before. That could lead to stomach problems on race day.
2. Don’t Forget About Protein. Many runners focus so much on consuming carbs that they sometimes forget about eating protein. Protein helps with recovery and building muscle so it should consist of 15% of your intake.
3. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the days leading up to the race. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they cause dehydration, and that makes for a difficult run. Besides, it’s just plain hard to run with a hang over.
4. Stay Relaxed. Visualize the race route in your mind and envision yourself on the course the day before the race. Think positively about all your hard work over the past few months.
5. Trim your Toenails. Keeping your toenails short will prevent them from hitting the front of your shoes, which causes bloody or black toenails.
6. Get Inspired. The night before a race, watch a movie or read a book that you find inspiring. I personally find sports films very inspiring before a race.
7. Get your Clothing and gear ready. Lay out your clothing and gear for the race the night before. Remember to include:
-Race bib and safety pins
-Running outfit, hat, shoes, socks, jacket, etc
-Gels or chewy candy
-Body glide and sunscreen
8. Plan to Get up Early. Most people don’t sleep well the night before a race but setting your alarm and double-checking it will help you sleep without worry that you forgot to set it. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast and get to the race start line early.
People of all shapes, sizes, ages and socio-economic backgrounds will run more races in the fall in Ontario than in any other time of the year. Whether you’re preparing for your first 5 km run or your 6th half marathon, runners are all consumed by thoughts of setting a personal best or perhaps just crossing that finish line. Each and every morning that I go out for a run, I feel this sense of belonging and solidarity. When I pass a runner on the street we address each other with a knowing smile, nod or wave as if to say ” you go girl, good job!” Running brings about an amazing sense of camaraderie and energy between strangers. We understand what drives us to be out there racking up the distances at ungodly hours, and we share a passion for what is truly the most wonderful time of the year.