Tips for better training and racing
1.Important Shoes News
Get the right shoes for your feet. Each running shoe is different. Some are straight lasted, some curved. Some have rigid rear foot stabilizers, some don’t. Some shoes are constructed to work well for heavier runners, some are built for those lighter in weight. Get the best shoe for you.
Example: I have “Morton’s Toe”, meaning that my second toe is slightly longer that my first. My feet are flat. This means that I need a straight lasted shoe with a toe box that holds my toes in their position. I also need a shoe with a strong, rigid rear stabilizer and a good arch support. Saucony makes the best shoe for me.
ALSO, make sure that you don’t attempt training in worn out shoes. Worn shoes won’t provide the support and protection needed for your training and you will run the risk of injury.
IF your shoes get wet be sure to air them out immediately after your workout. The best way to do this is to stuff them with rolled up paper and put them in a position where air will move over them. The paper inside will help to absorb the moisture so that the materials and the stitching of the shoe won’t dry rot.
I suggest that you only wear your training shoes to run. They will last longer and maintain support better if you do so. It is also important that you have a good pair of walking shoes that provide the comfort and support that your feet and legs need. Female runners who wear high heels often struggle with shin problems due to the stress that is incurred.
AND remember to take care of your feet. A little Vaseline on your feet, sox, or in your shoe will help to eliminate friction that leads to blisters.
Stretching is an essential part of training. Stretching will help with muscle toning and conditioning. Stretching is vital before and after a workout. It not only helps to prepare you for the workout, it will also aid recovery. Before a workout it is good to do a warm up jog, then a “cold stretch” – light stretching of vital muscle groups. Stride agility drills will then work well to prepare you for exertion. After a workout a good warm down will help you to feel better and aid muscle recovery.
Here's a link for some really great stretches
Your body needs plenty of water. Physiologists say that your body is about 90% fluids. Muscles are comprised mostly of water. It you don’t drink enough water you will lack energy, risk dehydration and slow recovery. It is recommended that you drink at least 64oz of water per day. If doing long runs plan to drink along the way (take a water break).
4.Early morning workout preparation
Before an early morning workout you want to be sure to awake early enough to eat something and drink at least 10oz of water. You will also want to do a light stretch and exercises before you leave the house.
One of the biggest keys to your continual improvement through consistent training is recovery. Good recovery will enable you to replenish electrolytes and rebuild depleted glycogen stores. Good recovery will allow your muscles to replenish and strengthen before you begin the next workout.
There are four keys to good recovery:
FIRST, REHYDRATE -- drink to restore lost fluids and electrolytes
SECOND, REPLENISH FUEL RAPIDLY -- eat to refuel your muscles. Eating protein within 30 minutes following a workout is the best way to restore depleted glycogen stores that your muscles use during hard exercise. Also, a good meal within a couple of hours afterwards is vital.
THIRD, MOTION MANAGEMENT -- moving around a bit to stay loose and keep the blood circulating will aid recovery. Take a walk, a bike ride, go for a swim... AND massage your muscles using the palm of your hand, making long strokes over major muscle groups.
FOURTH, SLEEP -- inactive slumber is a vital mode for muscle repair. Consistent sleep patterns of about 9hrs are vital for athletic teens to recover from hard workouts and prepare for optimal performance.
6.Takin' it easy
Remember that in training you are building up gradually to a point where you can do the training work required for your goal (You've gotta train to train). If you try to push too hard, too soon (before your body is ready for that level of stress), then you will run the risk of injury and need extra recovery.
When I was young I learned an important formula that speaks an important reality for training athletes: WORK + REST = STRENGTH
It is important to understand your body and the way it responds to training. It is the right amount of hard work, plus the right recovery and rest that will increase your strength as a runner.
It is as important to condition your mind as it is your muscles. Strategic mental preparation is perhaps the most neglected factor of high school athletics. Many athletes train hard, but fail to achieve their potential because they have not been mentally prepared to do so.
Here are five important factors you should consider for mental preparation:
1-MOTIVATION. Set clear attainable goals for yourself. This will help to motivate you and give you focus. Setting short-term goals that move you toward your ultimate goal will help you to find the needed motivation to train well daily.
2-CONFIDENCE. You need to develop a winning attitude and positive self-image to be a successful athlete (whatever 'winning' may mean to you). Greater confidence will broaden your chances for success. Condition your mind to be psychologically stronger for competition, just as you train your body.
3-RELAXATION. Learn to control the tension in your body. Anxiety interferes with the fluidity of muscle tension. Relaxation techniques can help you to clear your mind and enhance your concentration, which may be the most necessary ingredient of athletic excellence.
4-VISUALIZATION (aka- imagery reherrsal). Relax and see yourself doing what you want to do, doing it well. Train periodically my mentally experiencing yourself in a race achieving your goal. But don't visualize too much; I suggest 2 or 3 times per week for three minutes at a time. Too much visualization will drain you!
5-POSITIVE THINKING. Attitude is everything! Your thoughts will have a strong impact on how you perform. Thinking negatively will keep you from reaching your potential. Plan times each day to think positive thoughts about your commitment to achieve.
You not only need to train your body and mind, you must learn to manage your emotional energy as well, in order to race successfully throughout the season. In the early part of your training period it is best not to expend too much emotional energy (relax and don't get too pumped up about the upcoming season). You’ll need to reach into your emotional reservoir later, during the peak of racing season, so don't deplete yourself early. Try to build up emotionally as you progress toward your goal race. This way you’ll be ready on the day that matters most.
9.Fartlek -- A change of pace
Changing pace during a training run can break up monotony, loosen up muscles, relax the body and add a beneficial training effect. Changing pace can also be an effective training method. Many years ago Swedish runners developed a training method they called Fartlek, which is the word for 'speed play.' Over the years I have discovered this to be one of the most effective ways of training.
10. Breath well
Don’t just start gasping for air when you run, get into a breathing pattern. Train yourself to control your body in response to the stress of running and to most efficiently handle the load. Make sure you are exhaling as your right foot strikes the ground, allowing your diaphragm the best position to handle the greatest amount of air.
I like to train runners to use a breathing pattern that I learned while in college. The focus is on exhaling, blowing out from the belly, every fourth stride. The blow out should be quick and light, with every fourth blow a little deeper and longer. I found that this technique helps runners to relax more, especially when tiring.
Sometimes runners get cramps in their side or shoulders which hinder breathing when running hard. Such problems can be due to a)exhaling on the wrong foot strike, which causes to pinch against the diaphragm, b)poor bio-mechanics (running form) related to shoulder positioning and/or arm swing, and c)running at a pace you're not conditioned for.
Preparing for a race is similar to the preparation needed prior to a workout. However, there are some differences necessary that you need to be aware of due to the great exertion you will ask of your body. Below are some different approaches that you can take to help be best prepared.
a.Eat about four hours prior to a race. This gives your body time to digest your meal and recover from the process. It would be best to avoid eating an abundance of dairy products before a race. About one and a half hours prior to your race start you can eat a light snack to help “settle” your stomach. I like some chocolate or crackers at this time.
b.Allow for a longer warm up and stretching time. Get in some light stretching about one hour before your start. Try not to over stretch; this will zap muscle energy. In the last hour prior to a race agility drills will work well to get your heart rate elevated and prepare your muscles for racing exertion. Do a ten minute jog about thirty minutes before the start, then agility drills up till the time of the gun.
c.Drink enough water throughout the day of a race. Try not to over drink, which will leave you with a bloated feeling. I also like to drink a caffeinated beverage within one hour of a race start. This helps to “get my body going.” I also like to drink/sip an energy replacement drink, throughout the day, up to the start time.
Note: During school you will have an allowance to drink throughout the day due your cross country participation. It is easiest to keep a drink in your locker and grab a sip between classes. Contact your school trainer if you have any problems with doing this.
d.Good rest is essential to racing well. A tired body will not have the energy needed to perform at its potential. You may find that it is difficult to sleep well the night prior to a big race. Plan ahead and be sure to rest well the two nights prior. Sleep experts say that sleep patterns run in cycles, so consider your sleep pattern for four days prior to a race. The experts also say that teens in training need at least 9hrs per night.
12. Maintaining a Healthy Immune System
Do you catch colds and viruses often? Are you sick a lot? Do you have allergies? Are you run down and fatigued most of the time? You may have a weak immune system. Did you ever notice how some people catch everything and others are never sick and always full of energy? Different people have different immune systems. Our immune system is how we fight off infections and germs and cancer. Sometimes the immune system does not work properly, as with immunodeficiency disorders. These people are extremely susceptible to infection and cancer.