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Training for a Race with Limited Time

training for a race with limited time

When life gets busy and hectic, race day can easily sneak up on you and take you by surprise. One day you’re signing up for a 5K with plenty of time to prepare, and before you know it, you suddenly realize you only have a month left to train. Whether you put your training on hold to take care of important family matters, wait for an injury to heal, or you fell victim to plain old procrastination, don’t panic! According to numerous expert coaches and dedicated runners, it is possible to make significant progress in your performance in a limited amount of time. 

Don’t “Cram” Your Training 

“Running a race is not like writing an exam,” says professional runner and coach, Malindi Elmore. “It needs to be a mindset of working with your body and maximizing advantages.” Trying to go from not exercising at all to working out for an hour everyday will do nothing but make you feel exhausted, worn out, and less motivated to achieve your goal. Christine Luff, a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, says that starting any type of 5K training program is recommended for those who have been active in the past month. Real beginners should build up their endurance slowly, with a program such as 4 Weeks to 1 Mile

Key Things to Focus On

Although it can be tempting to want to run everyday, Luff suggests running every other day with rest days, strength training, or cross-training workouts between each running day. Doing other activities, like swimming, cycling, or yoga, can help you build endurance and strength while allowing your muscles to recover after the previous day’s run. 

In addition to mixing up your workout routine, former Olympic runner Julie Isphording emphasizes the importance of nutrition in any type of training regimen. “You are working out more, so you'll need to consume more calories to repair muscle and build strength,” Isphording says. She recommends eating a variety of foods while focusing heavily on fruits, vegetables, complex carbs and protein to fuel and nourish your body.

4-Week Training Program

If you consider yourself to be a beginner runner and want to improve your performance before an upcoming 5K, there are a number of programs you can check out, depending on how much time you have. For those who have a mere 4 weeks to prepare (there's still 9 weeks until Big Dam Run, but just in case you don't get started right away!) here is one sample workout plan recommended by a Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach: 

Week 1:

  • Day 1: Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat twice.
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 3: Run 12 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat twice.
  • Day 4: Rest.
  • Day 5: Run 13 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat twice.
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 7: Rest.

Week 2:

  • Day 1: Run 15 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat twice.
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 3: Run 17 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 minutes.
  • Day 4: Rest.
  • Day 5: Run 19 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 minutes.
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 7: Rest.

Week 3:

  • Day 1: Run 20 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 6 minutes.
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 3: Run 24 minutes.
  • Day 4: Rest.
  • Day 5: Run 26 minutes.
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 7: Rest.

Week 4:

  • Day 1: Run 28 minutes.
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train.
  • Day 3: Run 30 minutes.
  • Day 4: Rest.
  • Day 5: Run 20 minutes.
  • Day 6: Rest.
  • Day 7: Race day! 3.1K.

If you’re a more advanced runner, you can check out an intermediate or advanced regimen instead. Or, if you’re really short on time, give this 2-week program a try!

Best Stretching Tips for Runners

Best Stretching Tips for Runners

There are several questions and concerns among runners when it comes to stretching. Some people stretch before running simply because that’s what they’re used to doing before any type of workout. Others never stretch at all and insist that it doesn’t hinder their performance. Some runners swear that stretching after a run is the most beneficial for them. But what does the research say?

According to most health and fitness experts, stretching before and after a run can help you improve flexibility, prevent injury, and boost your performance. The trick is completing the right types of stretches at the ideal times during your workout routine. 

Static vs. Dynamic Stretching

Generally speaking, there are two main types of stretches: static and dynamic. Static stretches are the kinds of stretches you do while standing still, such as touching your toes, doing a standing lunge, or holding a simple yoga pose. Static stretches can improve flexibility, but they’re most effective if completed once your muscles are warmed up after a workout. Doing static stretches before a workout can cause you to pull a muscle or injure yourself since your muscles are still “cold.”

Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, are perfect for pre-workout warmups. These stretches, such as walking lunges and side stretches, allow you to slowly warm up your muscles through gentle movements. Dynamic stretching has been proven to help runners avoid injuries during their routines, and it can often have positive effects on a runner’s overall flexibility. Athletic performance coach, Hannah Schultz, recommends just 8 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching prior to a workout to reap these benefits. 

Pre-Workout Stretches

The most important thing to remember when it comes to stretching is that you should never feel pain or discomfort during a stretch. Pushing yourself too hard or rushing through the stretches won’t do you any favors, and you may risk hurting yourself before your run. Take your time, and don’t force yourself to stretch past the point of moderate resistance.

Some people prefer to complete their dynamic stretches after a brief warm-up jog, whereas others like to do these stretches in place of their typical warm-up routine. You may have to experiment a bit to see what works best for you. In any case, these dynamic, pre-workout stretches are a few good options to try before your next run: 

  • Walking lunges.
  • Calf raises.
  • Side stretches.
  • Hip circles.
  • Standing quad stretches.

Post-Run Stretches

After a hard run, your muscles may feel sore, tight, or tired. Instead of packing up and heading back home, take a few minutes to take advantage of your loosened muscles to do some easy static stretches. These poses specifically target muscles that can affect a runner’s performance, and they can ease muscle tension or discomfort: 

  • Calf stretch (using an exercise step or stairs).
  • Low lunge.
  • Butterfly stretch.
  • Hamstring stretch.

Stretch Yourself Further

If you want to see more examples of static or dynamic stretches, check out these videos for step-by-step tutorials and stretching routines:

Big Dam Happy Endings

John Knowles and Natasha Green at Big Dam Run

There are endless reasons to run, and we’ve just added “finding your soulmate” to that list.

Or should we say “sole mate”? 

No...let’s not. 

All puns aside, running provides numerous benefits, from improved physical health, to stress management, to better sleep. On top of that, it’s an activity you can do from almost anywhere with essentially no equipment or gear (besides shoes, of course), so it’s incredibly accessible. 

But one thing people normally don’t consider when it comes to running is the community it builds—the people you meet and the bonds you form through casual jogs and high-profile races alike.

When John Knowles approached the starting line of the Big Dam Run 5K in 2017, the Nevada desert heat provoking pre-race sweat, he had no clue that in 3.1 miles, he would not only relish crossing the finish in all his dehydrated glory—but he would also find his wife-to-be.

John met Natasha in the moments before the gun went off, when the two were claiming their blaze-orange race-day T’s. Their brief intro segued into the run, and even as the dry heat gave way to parched lips and whimpering lungs, the two ran in tandem—seemingly unbothered by the late-spring swelter and enjoying one another’s conversation and company.

No one had a clue that love would blossom on the eve of one of the largest Magento conferences in the United States—or that a little desert race would mark the beginning of a relationship that would lead to a proposal two years later (and a wedding three years later!). 

It just goes to show what happens when you pair the inherent connection among the Magento community with the unmatched power of running.

Big Dam Run 2020 takes place on Sunday, March 29! Sign up today and prepare yourself for a festive run with some pretty cool people—and who knows? Maybe you’ll even meet “the one.”

Strength Training for Distance Runners

Within the running community, there have always been misconceptions and concerns when it comes to strength training and weightlifting. Many people fear that hitting the gym will cause them to gain “too much” muscle or add extra body weight that can end up negatively impacting their race times. Even Arthur Lydiard, the legendary coach who trained athletes in the ‘50s and ‘60s, has firmly stated that runners don’t need to do any strength training in order to reach their performance goals.

However, research has proven that strength and conditioning programs can be incredibly worthwhile for new runners and seasoned marathoners alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Benefits of Weight Training

According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training can be “a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.” The Mayo Clinic also stresses the fact that it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time to begin seeing the positive effects of weightlifting; people can begin noticing changes with just 2 or 3 half-hour training sessions per week. Some of these benefits can include:

  • Increased lean muscle mass.
  • Reduced body fat. 
  • Better muscle coordination. 
  • Reduced chance of injury. 
  • Improved bone density.
  • Easier (and more enjoyable) runs. 

Recommended Types of Strength Training 

Runners concerned about putting on extra weight or developing “bulky” muscles have no reason to worry. There are a number of ways to tone your muscles, increase endurance, and boost running performance while maintaining a lean figure. A few common types of strength training options to consider include:

  • Circuit training. A circuit routine is a surefire way to get your heartrate up, benefit your cardiovascular system, and keep your workouts interesting. This type of training includes brief, high-intensity exercises with short rests between each set.
  • Traditional weightlifting. Traditional weightlifting has been shown to improve running economy, coordination, and anaerobic performance, making it a beneficial routine for sprinters. However, runners should focus on moving moderate amounts of weight instead of trying to pile on the pounds.
  • Plyometrics. Also known as “explosive training,” this type of exercise has been proven to improve running performance at 5K. As the name suggests, plyometrics involves several quick bursts of movements. Jumping jacks, squat jumps, and box jumps are common elements in this type of workout. 

Suggested Workouts

Not sure where to start? Here a few simple exercises that are specifically recommended for runners of all ability levels:

Best of all, these exercises require no special equipment and can be completed whenever you have a few extra moments in your day. Just take care to not push yourself too hard right away!

Pre-Race Fuel for Runners

Whether you’re prepping for your first 5K race or your first marathon, getting proper nutrition should be one of the top priorities in your training regimen. After months of workouts and early morning runs, taking some time to create a great meal plan before race day will ensure that all your hard work will pay off. To help you get a better idea of which foods you should enjoy (and avoid), here are a few expert tips on how to choose nutrient-dense foods before, during, and after your race. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Hours Before Race Day

Even if you’re relatively new to running, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “carb-loading.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should eat an enormous pasta dinner the night before your race and call it good. Treating yourself to such a heavy meal will likely cause you to wake up feeling bloated, uncomfortable, or even nauseous; in other words, definitely not a great way to start a race! 

Instead of “carb-loading” in one big meal, nutritionists advise getting carbohydrates from a variety of foods over a few days. You can begin adding more carbohydrates to your diet up to three days before your race to slowly build up your glycogen reserves and avoid “hitting the wall” on race day. Add one of these foods to each of your meals to boost your carb intake gradually:

  • Rice, oatmeal, quinoa, or pasta.
  • Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  • Whole grain bread or tortillas.
  • Yogurt with granola.
  • Juice or sports drinks
  • Fruits and vegetables (just be aware of fiber content!).

3-4 Hours Before Your Run

The morning of race day should include a nutritious breakfast that’s low in fat, low in fiber, and high in carbohydrates. Avoid eating processed meats, such as bacon or sausage, and stay away from heavy foods like donuts and pastries until after your race. Foods like these can weigh you down and make you feel lethargic since your body has to work harder to digest fatty foods. Instead, opt for simple foods you’re familiar with, such as:

  • Toast or bagel with peanut butter.
  • Banana and a granola bar.
  • Oatmeal or low-fiber 
  • Eggs or yogurt.

During the Race

“If your race takes more than one hour, you’ll need to drink during it,” says Master of Human Nutrition and triathlete Kaisa Sali. She recommends taking small sips of water every 15-20 minutes, or at each aid station, in order to avoid dehydration. If you’ll be running a half or full marathon, Sali says it’s a good idea to take in anywhere from 30 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, depending on the individual’s weight. These can be taken in by gels, sports drinks, bananas, or sports bars.

Post-Race

After you’ve crossed the finish line, it’s wise to grab a sports drink to help you replace fluid, proteins, and carbs. Snacks like recovery bars, milkshakes, smoothies, cold cereal, and chicken sandwiches are a few great options that can boost your energy and begin repairing damaged muscle tissues. Then, you can feel free to indulge in your favorite meal—you deserve it!

Copyright © 2019 Big Dam Run organized by Wagento. All rights reserved.