It’s almost April so that means.. it should be starting to get warm…soon? That’s what I’ve heard so let’s hope Mother Nature steps up her game.
Am planning on “jogging” this week and start getting for again. Excited but not looking forward to the pain of the first few runs post 6 weeks off..
Enjoy your Monday! Go on an adventure and start your week off right.
Coaching cross country and track has taught me many things in the past few years and I am constantly surprised by new questions and comments I hear every day in practice or at meets. Because I have been a runner for my entire life, I take for granted what people already know about the sport and probably overlook some important details that could be very valuable, especially to new runners.
One of the things I never thought about until last week was the difference between running and racing. One of my new athletes ran nearly 3 minutes faster from their first race on a Wednesday to their second race on that Saturday (remember high school racing schedules?). I asked her how she dropped so much time in just one week and she simply said, “I realized there was a difference between running and racing.”
It seems like a simple concept but for an athlete who is new to long distance running, where “speed” is not how fast you can sprint 100 yards, I see where this may get tricky.
As a coach, I feel that I failed to communicate with my new runners that these races are a time to compete, a time to put together all the pieces of the miles and workouts they have been doing the past few months. So how can I explain to runners the difference between when they go out for a tempo run or do a workout and when they put on their spikes and jerseys?
- Tapering: We taper and rest for races to feel as strong and fresh as possible, so the hard work we have been doing the past few months can payoff without feeling tired, heavy, or burnted out. Workouts are when we want to learn to push through pain and fatigue and do not need to be rested.
- Adrenaline: There is something to be said for the nerves that carry you through the race on race day. You can easily hit splits during a race, consecutively, that seemed like a struggle during workouts.
- Crowd Support: Going off adrenaline, crowds at races always add to the excitement of race day. No matter where the crowds are cheering, I can’t say too many runners would complain about hearing words of encouragement. Crowds can also help carry runners to a fantastic finish.
- Preparation: Race day is where you put together every single ounce of sweat you put into the season. Every long run, every tempo run, the corework–>it all has a purpose and that is to feel as strong and as fast as possible on race day.
- Strategy: Racing requires more strategy than workouts. Typically in workouts you are trying to achieve a certain goal (certain splits, fast finishes, etc) and can afford to take some risks in pushing the pace. Race day is when you want everything to go as smoothly as possible and, to be frank, beat other runners. With experience, you learn to pace better, to run in a pack, to learn how to sit and kick, and learn when to take the lead.
Comfort Zone: Racing requires getting out of your comfort zone….waaaaay out of your comfort zone. Workouts are designed to not only get you stronger but to mentally and physically prepare you for the pain you will experience during a race. You need to learn how to shut off those little voices in your heard and push through the **temporary** pain!
- Teammates/Support: After high school, not too many of us can enjoy the luxuries of training with and running for a team. It is such a unique experience and I hope I can provide an experience for my athletes that was just as good as my own. Teammates are so supportive during a race because they know what your exact goals are and the fear of disappointing them was always a strong motivator for me. As we get older, we find different support systems for our goals that our just as important, including club members, spouses, and our children.
I love all the new things I learn from my athletes and coaching continues to teach me new things about a sport I thought I knew so much about.
Last week, I wrote a blog post about the difference between running and racing and the factors that contribute to why you perform better on race day. The adrenaline, the cheering, the taper, the racing gear—it all has an effect and it is important to recognize race day is the time to put all the work you have done into play and show off what you have been working so hard for. These goals can vary from taking home the gold, running a personal best, or simply finishing a certain race distance.
To piggyback off of that blog post, it is important to recognize how much putting in such a hard effort has on you AFTER the race. One of my athletes has had a breakthrough lately and the week following a tremendous personal best, she has been plagued with fatigue, aches and pains, and not her best workouts. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and you can tell she was frustrated to come off such a high from running a PR with a series of lows.
I reminded her that she is going to be tired from running so hard. Your body can’t handle putting a 110% effort, day in and day out. She is tired because she worked hard, because she truly gave it everything she had and that is exactly what you need to do on race day.
After running a good race, I think it is really easy to be motivated and want to go longer on your runs and want to go faster in your workouts because you got a taste of what all the hard work has been for but you really need to manage the highs and lows running has and listen to your body. Coming off a good race, you need to remember your body does need rest, you do need to take the time to cool-down and stretch after, and you do need to stay on top of taking care of yourself and doing the same things that you did that led up to you feeling your best (sleep, nutrition, focus). If you have done the work, taking a few days easier will not hurt your fitness and allow you to come back the next race fresh.
Having a blog about running is really difficult to keep up when you haven’t actually beenrunning. Post-surgery, the comeback has been slowgoing. I have been extremely busy with teaching and coaching and to be honest…running is not all that fun when you’re not in shape. I found myself going out for a run…and then needing to take a week off to recovery because everything hurt the next day, and the day after, and the day after… I have been running more as of lately and I am grateful for all my running buddies that are keeping me accountable and making running fun again until I can handle twenty+ minutes without having an asthma attack!
So, if I have not been running what have I been doing?
I recently took up a barre class, a fitness class that combines yoga, pilates, and ballet. This class is… SO TOUGH. We do a lot of repetitions and variables of specific exercises that work mainly your core, seat, and arms. This class works for me because I need someone to tell me what to do or else I do one minute of planks and ten bicep curls and call it a day. I am continually surprised that I am able to physically walk out of that class each night.
The only other thing I have been up to is…WEDDING PLANNING-sort of. We are in the midst of planning our engagement party and I have been crafting away getting things ready for the event. My school’s spring break was not too long ago so I was able to try out a few new crafts. I am single handedly keeping Richmond-area A.C. Moore’s in business thanks to this party.
With working long hours and still not running, can’t say there’s too much to report over here. Hope everyone’s training has been going well and that the trails have provided you with peace and therapy on your many miles.
“Not all who wander are lost…”