Coach Carl shares ten handy tips that can make an immediate difference in your race performances:
1. Pace yourself properly. The heady combination of pre-race adrenaline and pent up energy associated with a taper prompts many athletes to go out too hard, and most of the greatest mistakes in a longer race are made in the first 45-60 seconds. Do your best to control that first portion of the race, and parse your effort very evenly. Think of the boiled lobster analogy, what feels great at minute one won’t seem as optimal twenty minutes later.
2. If you are feeling lethargic and it’s not iron-related, take a harder look at your Vitamin D levels. Note that Vitamin D “functions like a hormone.” These can fluctuate seasonally (winter brings less light than summer). Fish oil aka “happy fat” is your friend. Also, if you change lifestyles, (i.e. you land an indoor desk job) this can have a dramatic effect on Vitamin D levels.
3. In longer road races and marathons you can take a gel, shake it in your water bottle, and drink them together. This is much easier than trying to swallow a sticky gel mid-race and chase it with water.
4. In old school races providing only paper cups, cut a straw into three sections and place them in your watch band. It is a cleaner way to sip those mid-race fluids.
5. Don’t sprint through aid stations. It is better to slow down a minute or even two minutes per mile, make sure you obtain your fluid, and then speed up again. The time lost is negligible and the replenishment of reserves is vital.
6. On hills in cross country or trail races, shorten your stride and work on your cadence (turnover) and paw back (push-off). Most people tend to maintain their stride length, which creates an over-stride on the uphills and this consumes a lot more energy. Conversely, on the downhills, take a longer stride but don’t reach out too far that you brake.
7. Disclaimer: Coffee is not for everyone. But if you drink coffee, drink it at least three hours before the start of your race. If you drink coffee daily, take three or four days off of coffee before a big race for a “super-kick.” If you have never drank coffee, try it before a workout first before rolling the dice and drinking it before a race.
8. Dynamic stretching before workouts, static stretching after workouts. Sometimes a little moderate static stretching before bed helps you sleep if you are feeling antsy.
9. Sleep is one of your best training allies, especially the week before a big race. This is when growth hormone repairs hard working muscles.
10. Don’t eat an entire Tacos Sinaloa super burrito 15 minutes before the start of your championship race. Thought it may be a shock to many, this can generate some concerning mid-race digestive prompts.
Written by Coach Carl Rose.