Before we get into the racing action, we'd like to recognize some of the people in our group. The first line of the Runner's Code is "We begin as runners .......we finish as friends" so in keeping with that thought first we'd like to congratulate Ellan and Robert on their marriage, and the upcoming birth of their daughter. We wish them all the best!
This summer we also welcomed new runners to the group. Most of you have already met Michelle LaPlante and Mike Chopchitz as they've been with us since early July. Another new runner, Nicole Thorner, joined us for a run several weeks ago, and will be back soon! And we'd like to welcome back Angela Migchels who took a short break but is back training with us for a fall goal race.
Last but certainly not least, we'd like to congratulate Alice Andruchow on the birth of her first grandchild, Everley (hope I've spelled her name correctly). Congrats 'grandma' Alice!!
Next I'd like to thank Alice, Kirsten, Heather, Mike and Terry for filling in while I was on vacation. It's really great to see everyone pitching in to make the group work well.....thanks again!
It's been a busy summer racing season and we'd like to congratulate the following people:
- Carol lived up to the 'Energizer Bunny' nickname with a 2nd Place Age Group Performance at the Kincardine Du, an Age Group Placing at the Albion Hills Trail race, and another AG placing at the Selfridge ANG 5k. Way to go Carol!!
- Kirsten, Juanita, Mike C. all did a great job at the St. Clair River Run, with Kirsten finishing 4th overall among women, Juanita having her best race in several months, and newcomer Mike C. finishing 2nd overall. Congrats to all!
- Angela didn't waste any time getting back into racing and did a great job at the Albion Hills Trail Race!
- Although not advertised as a race, we'd like to congratulate the following Gran Fondo cyclists: Alice, Monica, George and Terry.....nice work everyone!
- Finally, we'd like to congratulate 'Iron Terry' on his 1st Place Age Group performance at the Goderich Tri ....nice job Terry!
- If I've missed anyone, please let me know!
Happy running in September!
From Runners World Advanced (Running Times)
Priming the Pre-Race Pump
The morning before the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials, Pete Pfitzinger ran four miles. By that afternoon, he says, “I was feeling cooped up,” so he did what he’d done most days over the last several months—he went for a run before dinner. In this case, it was a three-miler followed by a handful of strides. The next day, Pfitzinger was the surprise winner of the trials, outsprinting Alberto Salazar to get the victory in a personal best of 2:11:43.
Doubling the day before a marathon is admittedly extreme—Pfitzinger never did so again—but it’s an example of how elites approach prerace routines differently than many runners. Here are some things to do in the few days before a race that will leave you rested but not sluggish, energized but not exhausted.
Fine-Tune Your Taper
The point of tapering is to allow you to make the best use of your fitness on race day. Meeting that goal is not synonymous with running as little and as slowly as possible. “Many people take the day off before a race, and I think that is usually a mistake,” says Pfitzinger, the top American finisher at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic marathons, and now the general manager of High Performance Sport New Zealand and co-author of three running books, including Advanced Marathoning. “If you are used to running most days, then the muscles will tend to tighten up on a day off. A light run the day before a race will make your muscles feel better and help you relax, and the energy used is quickly replenished.”
Pfitzinger’s advice underscores a larger principle: Regular training makes being active your body’s default state. Give it the right doses of what it’s used to, and it will respond more favorably than if you suddenly introduce new variables soon before a race.
“The most counterproductive thing people do before a big race is just jog for the week or two before,” says Joe Rubio, coach of the Asics Aggies and co-owner of runningwarehouse.com. “That just leaves you sluggish. Do the same stuff you normally do: Run on the same days of the week, run the same paces and distances in workouts. Just do less of it.”
Two weeks before a key race, Rubio’s runners do 80 percent of their normal weekly mileage as well as volume of repetitions in hard workouts (e.g., they’ll do four 1200-meter repeats instead of five). That figure drops to 60 percent of normal in the week before the goal race. Their last really hard, race-pace workout is 10 to 14 days before the key race. Four days before, “they’ll do a solid workout, but nothing heroic,” Rubio says, such as 400-meter repeats at 5K pace or 800-meter repeats at 10K pace, with the hard running totaling two miles.
Rubio extends the advisability of maintaining routine to diet and sleep. “If you tell yourself you need more sleep and then you don’t get it, you’re just going to get stressed,” he says.
Some of Rubio’s athletes are marathoners, but what they do the day before racing 26.2 miles isn’t that different from what Olympian Kate Grace does the day before racing 800 or 1500 meters. The common goal is what Grace and her NorCal Distance Project teammates call “activation,” or invigorating their muscles and nervous system in an untaxing way so that they won’t feel sluggish on race day. “The day before a race, I go to the track and go through my prerace routine,” Grace says. “All the drills, all the [foam] rolling, especially focusing on drills to get my muscles firing. I’m getting my body primed.”
After running a few easy miles, Grace does running form drills involving fast motions, such as quick feet and various skips, followed by short strides, and ending with longer strides. She does the strides at a variety of paces, with an emphasis on feeling fast and fluid; the total distance she covers in the series of strides doesn’t exceed 800 meters.
“The ideal situation before a race is that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do when,” Rubio says. Or, as Grace puts it, “I leave no decisions to myself so that my race-day brain doesn’t take over,” by which she means the one that amplifies niggles, doubts, and fears. “Some people are too focused too early on race day,” Pfitzinger says. “It helps to have a routine that helps you relax rather than thinking about the race too much.”
Continuing the principle of giving a trained body what it’s familiar with, Rubio recommends using the same warmup for races that you do before hard workouts. There’s also a logistical benefit to doing so: “It helps you time your warmup because you know how long it takes,” Rubio says. “The worst thing is to get to a race and not know when to warm up.”
For Rubio’s runners, Grace, and pretty much every elite, that warmup starts with easy running, but doesn’t end there. Form drills and striders get your muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems ready to operate at a high level from the start of the race. “Even some people who do drills and strides before workouts avoid them on race warmups because they think, ‘I’ll get tired.’ That’s just not true if you’re used to doing them,” Rubio says.
Note that important caveat about drills and striders: Race day is not the time to start doing them.
“Drills require learning and getting used to the correct technique, so it does not make sense to try drills unless you are used to them,” Pfitzinger says. “If you have done drills for several weeks, then it would be useful to include them in your race warmup. Strides require less learning than drills, so it is probably okay to do them as part of a race warmup even if you do not do them regularly, but do not try them for the very first time as part of your warmup.” (To get started on incorporating form drills into your program, watch these videos of Meb Keflezighi demonstrating some.)
As does legendary coach Jack Daniels, Rubio recommends following drills and strides with 30 to 60 seconds of running at race pace or a little faster. “You know when you do a workout how the first rep usually sucks? Same thing can happen with the start of a race,” Rubio says. “So get the suck out of the way with some longer fast running within five minutes of the start. That will maintain your heart rate and keep your VO2 max near its peak so that when the gun goes off running at race pace isn’t a shock to the system.”
On the Line
Especially in large races, it’s increasingly common to line up and then wait several minutes for the start. During this time, the benefits of your warmup will start to recede if you just stand in place.
In chilly temperatures, “warming up” in a literal sense can fade rapidly. “It is helpful to stay warm, so if conditions are cold, try to keep a hat and extra top on for as long as possible before the start,” Pfitzinger says.
Regardless of the temperature, keep moving as best as you’re able. One or two striders would be ideal but are often not possible. “Jogging in place is really useful in staying warm and retaining the benefits of your warmup,” Pfitzinger says. Grace says that she does high-knees and quick-feet drills “to keep my body activated and heart rate elevated.” She also jumps in place, attempting to bring her knees up to her armpits. While held on the line, Grace also does a few final breathing exercises to focus and calm herself.
While trying to stay ready to race, remember that you’re not the only one in the field.
“I used to do arm circles as well,” Pfitzinger says, “and learned to be careful when I hit a guy in the nose.”