Pay Attention to Details
So, you’ve done all the running and training that you feel has prepared you for your BIG RACE but you experienced mixed results? Perhaps it is the little things in your daily training and living routine that you may have either overlooked or simply ignore that is holding you back from that big breakthrough in your racing.
I preach to my college runners all the time about working on details such as proper stretching, nutrition, and rest, to name a few, that they must not overlook. You’d be surprised how the little things can add up to major problems if they are not addressed.
In this space I’ll address three areas I just mentioned above: stretching, nutrition, and rest. Speaking from personal experience, these three have hindered the many of my runners in one away or another, as well as me.
In addressing these and other details, it comes down to discipline. It’s important to have a regular routine. Yeah it sounds boring, but to be successful at anything requires some sort of a routine or regiment that lays the foundation for success. It takes discipline to deal with the details otherwise, success will be limited.
Actually, I’m addressing flexibility. Runners need to be sure that they are working on their flexibility on a daily basis. In previous writings, I’ve addressed the importance of stretching after runs. Tied in with flexibility is working on one’s core strength several times a week. Over the past 10 years, I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of runners with muscle imbalances, poor core strength and weak muscle groups that are important to running.
Those you have not paid attention to their flexibility and strength end up with chronic injuries that set them back weeks and months from their training and racing. It is wise to develop a pre- and post-workout stretching and flexibility routine. As I have written before, I’m not big on pre-workout stretching (dynamic exercises preferred), but a good routine after all workouts will help you come back the next workout with less soreness and in the long run, a more agile runner.
Proper nutrition before, during and after workouts are one of the major shortcomings of many runners and athletes. While food is abundant, so is junk food, too -- garbage in, garbage out. If you want to be at your best, you have to give yourself a chance by supplying your body with sound nutrition.
I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, so seek one out for specific advice. Here are a few tips to follow to keep you on the road and in the race:
• Be sure to eat something with protein and carbohydrates after hard workouts to help your body recover quicker. Many experts say chocolate milk has the right balance of carbs and protein.
• Maintain good hydration year-round. Drink plenty of water, but also a sports drink now and then to help replace lost sodium and electrolytes.
• Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
• Avoid/limit fried foods, processed foods and foods containing high content of salt and high-fructose corn syrup.
Perhaps rest is one of the most overlooked details by runners. I knew a runner once who said he functioned and trained on four hours of sleep. I don’t see how he did it and train at a viable level.
If you expect to train to be a competitive runner and not break down from the workouts, you need at least eight hours of sleep per night. In my prime, I usually got seven hours, plus a 1-2 hour nap during the afternoon between workouts. Naps are important, too!
While you are sleeping is when your body is rebuilding the muscles you tore up in that tough speed workout on the track earlier that day. If you’re not resting, your body is not repairing itself and you will eventually be hurt!
So, details like sleeping and eating are vital if you are trying to be at your very best. Pay more attention and you’ll see results. Good luck!