I signed up for the Gate river run 15K for March 12th but I am not sure if I am feeling 'it' at this moment. I have my eyes set on New Orleans 70.3 (and Kona) and my internship is keeping me entertained with little room for "free-time". I guess I have a week or so to think about it but I believe that you have to mentally prepare for a race, just as much as you need to train for a race. Right now, there is not much room for visualizing and getting excited to push my body to the max. I'm 100% exhausted and my training is a great way to start my day and relieve stress. Over the years, I have learned to center my energy around a race and be 'ok' with not doing every race that is on the "to do" list...in the case that I am not feeling energized to do the race. More often than not, if the mind isn't excited for the race, the body won't be either.
I don't believe in compromising my training (or exercise) routine when I feel busy or overwhelmed. Sure, some workouts get moved around and workouts may change in volume and intensity. But wouldn't it just be silly of me to tell myself that I am too busy to exercise or train???? Could you imagine if I was counseling a patient and the patient told me that he/she is "too busy to exercise". I find that my role as a future RD (with a background/Masters in exercise physiology) is to lead by example. With a little creativity and a flexible and consistent schedule, exercise is simply part of the plan when wanting to live a healthy and balanced life.
About 2 weeks ago I spoke to a running group in downtown Jacksonville regarding racing nutrition. The group consisted of around 40+ newbie runners, training for the Gate river run.
One of the key points in my talk was talking about things in a race that are in your control. My April Iron Girl article will discuss these things in more detail.
My biggest suggestion to newbie (or veteran) athletes, when creating a practical race day nutrition plan, is to consider two factors. The duration of YOUR race and the intensity of YOUR race. The nutrition for the athlete running a 15K in 1 hour and 10 min @ 70% max HR is going to be a bit different than the athlete running a 90 minute 15K at 90% max HR. The faster you run, the higher the HR (ridding the body of CO2, while providing the body with oxygen-rich blood). The longer you run, the greater the risk of experiencing fatigue (mental and tissue breakdown). The higher the HR the quicker use of stored carbohydrates. Because muscle glycogen is the proffered fuel source during intense activity, it’s very important that you focus on a constant stream of fuel throughout the duration of your race. Therefore, in addition to focusing on your individual nutrition needs in the daily diet, it’s important that you create a pacing strategy that is based on your current fitness and previous training routine. Important to your fuel intake, it is important to maintain a consistent pace throughout your race. This will allow you to take in and use fuels as efficiently as possible, thus reducing the chance for fatigue in the early periods of the race. Keep in mind, that with a higher HR rate, comes the risk for GI distress because it’s often difficult to digest and absorb calories while the heart is pumping a great amount of blood to the working muscles. Even if you have a few weeks/months left until your upcoming race, I can’t stress how important it is to be realistic with your race day goals. Sadly, no amount of nutrition is going to make you run 6 min/miles if you haven’t trained your body to do so.