Are you gearing up to start your runs for 2019? If you are like me, you will be doing races all year round at intense levels without many breaks! Some of you may be doing your first obstacle race ever, others might be doing their first 5K or Marathon, but whatever it may be, one needs to know how to properly get ready for such a partaking.
Since my journey began I have learned quite a bit and I wish someone had told me about all of this from the very beginning.
First things first, your diet will matter. If you are someone who intakes quite a bit of junk, I would recommend less and begin focusing on carbs. Some believe that they will be fine if they carbo-load the night before, but I recommend intaking carbs as soon as you start your training for any run; if you are running consistently. Your body will need the sugars for energy during that time period.
I personally enjoy eating whatever I want, but I make sure not to eat too much of any unneeded foods. Your body will take whatever it is given and break it down for energy nonetheless; However, it is important to note that some will be better than others. (For more information about this, read my previous article An Obstacle Racer’s Diet!)
The next important thing to focus on is your hydration. I separate hydration from diet because I believe it should be a major focus for all runners/athletes, and in order to not get lost in everything else it should be given its own level of importance. Individuals do not always seem to realize that drinking the same amount of water during training and races is not going to cut it; your body will be sweating much of it out, so you’ll have to intake much more water and electrolytes. I would recommend eliminating sodas and not drinking alcoholic beverages in excess during this time period. Instead, I suggest taking Nuun tablets, they are a great form of hydration and electrolytes.
Water packs are also helpful for training and during races. I have several which I use for my multiple types of races. One for obstacle mud runs, one for my distance races, and one for training.
Finally, we come down to one of the most important aspects of any racers to do list, and that is getting the proper gear. Not just any shoe will cut it, so do not go with the cheapest pair you can find. Picking the right pair for your feet/race type (eg. trail running, distance running, obstacle racing) can mean the world during and after the race. Your shoes should be snug (for more information about proper shoes sizing and digital foot scanning, visit your local Fleet Feet store, https://www.fleetfeet.com/), any extreme wiggle room will cause your feed to slide around during runs and in extreme cases can lead to bleeding toes or bruising. Also, make sure to replace your shoes about once a year to avoid shoe wear and shoe effectiveness.
Now shoes aren’t the only thing you’ll need out there. A racer will also need the proper clothing for whatever type of race they have chosen to do. Socks and underwear may not seem very important, but compression socks and shorts or underwear can make all the difference for avoiding unnecessary rubbing/chafing, same goes for compression shirts. One should want to avoid wearing cotton to distance races or obstacle races; this material soaks up sweat and can sag, becoming uncomfortable during races, and when racing obstacle races/mud runs, one definitely wants to avoid loose clothing. There are plenty of options out there, but I enjoy wearing the superhero-themed designs that keep growing with more and more comic book movies coming out each year.
Now for those of you who don’t enjoy tight shorts, I would recommend a quick-drying material, not cotton, over compression wear.
I hope all of this information was helpful in your planning for your next upcoming race. As always, thank you for reading and remember to never give up and push yourselves each and every day!
-Daniel E. Lopez