April from Run the Great Wide Somewhere, Erika from MCM Mama Runs, and Patty from No-Guilt Life. This week's topic is about Challenge races: running races back to back.
Challenge races are my BRF (Best Running Friend)! No really- Challenges are close to my heart especially the rundisney ones. I love the challenge of them and most importantly: the BLING!! I have been in since the first Dumbo was announced in 2013.
Since then I have run:
- 3 Dumbos and signed up for a 4th (2012,2013,2014)
- 2 Glass Slipper Challenges (2014,2015)
- 1 Dopey/Goofy
- 1 Rebel Challenge and signed up for another (2016)
- 1 Pixie Dust Challenge and will sign up for another
- Signed up for the unofficial challenge of running the wine and dine 5k in the morning and half at night
- Signed up for 1 Infinity Gauntlet challenge
- Did the LA Turkey trot 5k/10k (back to back) and signed up to do it again
- signed up for the 2016 New Years race (non-rundisney and it will be a 10k followed by a half an hour later)
- signed up for the 2016 All Day Carlsbad 20k where I will run 4 5ks back to back (Master's Men, Master's Women, under 29, 30-39)
So 10 total with 6 currently signed up for and 1 more I will sign up for next month (Pixie Dust!!!).
I LOVE challenges and enjoy training for them (yes, I'm a weirdo). Since 2013, I have learned A LOT about challenges and how best to prepare so you can enjoy yourself.
1. BE REALISTIC
Are you ready to take on the challenge? I know we all love to be encouraging but I really suggest people tackle each distance individually before doing it all together. It will give you the confidence that you can do it and also well allow you to learn your body and how it adapt to training before jumping into new territory. You don't want to do too much too fast. The challenges will be there next year.
Also a huge thing-is this the right time? Check from now until the race: do you have enough time to train and prepare? If there's a wedding, graduation, move, job change, even time of year in there, this may not be the right time. You want to finish and finish strong.
This seems like common sense but it is not at all. You need a plan and you need to stick to it (this is so insanely crucial for Dopey-I've already written an entire post on Dopey tips here) to matter what. You have to get your body used to racing back to back days
This is one of the reasons training is so important, you need to practice eating enough calories and carb loading which can only come with practice.
yes this starts now. Having proper sleep hygiene while help with training as your body adapts to the increase in training. It will allow your body to repair itself and make sure you are rested for your runs.
5. CROSS TRAIN
Just running and running more will lead to injuries. Start now getting into a routine of being more active, weight training, yoga, stretching and rolling that works. It will keep you strong and also help with injuries.
In all of my race recaps, I do a full recap of what I did the day before and after. This is important for me to go back and read after the fact to see what I can tweak for next time. I also have a running journal where I write out my plan before, during and after and make notes right after for what I learned/ can improve upon.
One of the main things I have a hard time balancing is being at Disney for challenge races. For me, this is much easier at Disneyland as I live 40 min away and can go whenever. For WDW, this can be harder but that is why I like to plan a few vacation days after the race to help with recovery and also get more park time in. You can't burn the candles at both ends-you will end up miserable and tired.
Personally, I plan all of my meals first. I start with dinners. I like to have dinner around 5 preferably at a sit down location so that its reserved and will allow me to hopefully get back to my hotel room by 7.
From there, I double check I have everything I need set out, double check my alarm and plan for the morning and try to get in bed by 8.
For DL races, that will allow me close to 8 hours before I have to get up. For WDW, that will allow me 7 hours before I need to get up. I don't believe it is just luck that the races I've gotten the most sleep before (Tink 2014 and 2015) are the races I've felt very strong at.
DURING THE RACE
During the race, I like to hold back for the first race (or series of races). The important thing is to get through the longest race well. The best way to do that is to hold back and take your time in the first ones. This is easier said than done because people FLY at the start. Stick to your plan and you will be fine.
Make sure you are fueling properly during the race. I usually increase my fueling to include more shots or bloks before I will need it (yes, you have seen me taking clif shots during a 5k and 10k-gotta restock that sugar and glycogen). You are trying to hold glycogen in your muscles so the sooner you restock the sugars lost, the better.
EAT EAT EAT
After the race, you need to eat immediately to restock carbs. I always eat the box of food given at the finish and try and have a recovery meal within an hour. I usually head straight to food whether it is a meal or a food court stop.
REST AND STRETCH AND ROLL
Once in the hotel, I shower, stretch and roll and relax. I want to give my muscles a chance to recharge. I also lay out all of my clothes, accessories and food I need for the next day and charge all electronics.
I try not to rest more than an hour and usually don't nap. I head back out to the parks and grab lunch or a large snack around noon.
Walking around the parks is great recovery. It keeps the lactic acid at bay but keep it easy. You will want to stretch when you can and keep moving and hydrating.
Water is the key. You want to drink as much water as possible so you are well hydrated. I always carry a water bottle with me.
Like I said, dinner is early and then back to repeat the cycle! After the final race, I do like a quick nap (an hour or so) before heading out to celebrate.
That should do it for tips. As always, check out my recaps from past races and feel free to contact me if you ever need help with training for challenges!
Anyone else like challenges as much as I do?