3 things to do (or not to do) 2 weeks before your race

The Augusta University Half Marathon and 10K is two weeks away, which means I’m easing up on my mileage, locking down my nutrition plan even more and not changing a dang thing with my apparel.

It’s “taper time”

A friend once asked me, “I’m running a 10K Saturday. Can I work out Friday?” I told her that, if it’s typical for her to work out and then run that distance (6.25 miles) the next day, then yes. Just be careful and listen to your body.

She was asking about a topic called tapering. I define “tapering” as the ramping down of physical activity in order to avoid injury and to restore energy in preparation for an endurance athletic event. There are also nutritional and mental aspects, but this post addresses the physical aspect.

There are many and different rules about how to taper, and I think this is because it all comes down to the individual, mainly based on 1.) how conditioned he or she is and 2.) how hard he or she trained. For instance:

  • Conditioning: I believe that the running community typically rests the day before a race, because people use these events to push themselves farther. I know I do! In fact, I only sign up for races that have me running a longer distance than I would, left to my own devices, which means that I likely won’t be partaking in much, if any, physical activity the day before an event.
  • Training: Admittedly, I’ve never trained so diligently that I’ve been so concerned about tapering. However, I already ran my longest run in my training program, and I’m starting to decrease my mileage. Next week at this time starts the “doing very little to nothing” part of tapering, which is the hardest part for busy bodies like me.

If you’re tapering in preparation for the Augusta University Half Marathon and 10K like I am and truly cannot sit still as prescribed by the end of your training program, try to focus on stretching. Whatever you do, be careful not to work your muscles to fatigue (until you can’t do a given exercise anymore).

(This post continues below the photo.)

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Me, No. 7319, finishing my third half marathon in November 2015. I returned to run the race that got me hooked on half marathons, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & 1/2 Marathon in Savannah, Georgia. This was the hardest race I’ve run to date because of the crippling heat and humidity, which unfortunately caused medical issues for many participants and, very sadly, two fatalities. I drank at each water station (something I don’t typically do), and, still, I couldn’t seem to consume enough fluids to keep up with what I was sweating out. At around mile 10, I felt a chill come over me and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t on the verge of dehydration, so I asked a man running next to me if he felt that breeze. He said, “Ha! No, that’s you.” That was a warning sign for me to get some fluid in me – and fast. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated and in tune with your body, which brings me to my next point…

Fueling for an endurance athletic event

Here are three things you’ll need in order to effectively fuel for endurance athletic events:

  • Fluids: Fueling your body with an adequate amount of fluid is the most important thing you can do for your nutrition before, during and after an endurance athletic event. Water, for instance, regulates body temperature, serves as a lubricant for many body parts and processes and transports nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. Some athletes reach for sports drinks, because they not only help with hydration but also replenish electrolytes.
  • Sodium: While a low-sodium diet is important for heart, kidney and overall health, some is necessary in your diet. Sodium is an electrolyte, which regulates the body’s fluid levels, as well as muscle and nerve function. Electrolytes exit the body through sweat, so it’s important to replenish them.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs have gotten a bad rap for what happens to them when the body reaches its glycogen capacity: they turn into fat. However, carbs are vital to those who participate in endurance athletic events, because they provide energy and are the primary fuel source for muscles.

“What Not to Wear” (or ingest): anything new!

While training for this half marathon, I started trying things that I never imagined trying, thanks to a new running buddy. I bought two running belts, was given a Garmin training watch, started drinking a recovery shake after long runs and even tried GU Energy gel. She has not only introduced me to a lot of helpful products but also taught me how best to use them.

One morning, she and I set out for one of our relatively longer runs. I decided to try this hydration belt thing. I always considered buying one when I lived in D.C. because of how doggone hot and humid it gets there, but I always looked at gear like this as extraneous. Well, I had barely gotten out of the Walgreens parking lot, where we meet, before I found it riding up from my hips to my waist and bobbing around. I kept tugging it down. I started regretting buying it and, even more so, wearing it and having to deal with it for seven miles. My running buddy mentioned that these belts work best over cotton, because the cotton keeps them from sliding around. Lesson learned.

I share this with you to tell you that it’s not only can the wrong sneakers ruin your run – or worse, injure you. It’s also the smallest of gadgets and things that are made to help you that can be a nuisance and distract you. Race day is not the day to try something new with your wardrobe (or diet). A lot of my friends who run lay out their race outfit the night before – and even take photos of it to share their excitement for the race! I want to see yours, so tag your photos with @charmedwellness or #charmedwellness!

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Victory is mine!

charm

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