A great way to earn that Thanksgiving dinner is to start your day off with the Turkey Trot 5k. Jerod Langness with 24-hour Fitness has this advice to have a better experience before, during, and after:
Hopefully you have been already running up to this point, but if not, listen to your body. The ideal situation is to be training for the event 8 to 12 weeks before. If this is something that was not possible, pay attention to how your body is responding. I recommend a heart rate monitor to track how you're doing. If you find your heart rate climbing too high, slow your pace or walk until you are in a safer heart rate.
When there is time to train, your training should consist of running and functional training that is designed to improve your performance as a runner. Training should consist of corrective exercise to fix any muscle imbalances, reactive training to improve to response time of your nervous system, skeletal system, and muscular system, interval training to challenge your body with a variety of intensities, and dynamic resistance training to strengthen your muscles in different planes of motion. This training will also challenge balance and flexibility. By improving in these areas, you will have a much better result with your run.
Your nutrition also plays a major role in preparation. The timing, quality, quantity, and balance of nutrients will help your success as a runner. Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for your training. However, for runs that will be less than an hour, "carb loading" may not be necessary. "Carb Loading" refers to taking in very large portions of carbs the days before a big run. This helps the body have stored energy for long durations. If your run is a 5 or 10k, that stored energy may just stay stored as body fat. Your body typically has the energy needed from a well balanced diet for those distances.
Athletes training for these races often do well with 60% Carbs, 20% Protein, and 20% Fat. The timing of your meals should be that you eat every 2 to 4 hours that make up 5 to 6 meals a day. For runs and workouts you should eat no sooner than an hour before unless it is a meal replacement shake or bar, which can be consumed 30 minutes before. Having a well balanced meal immediately after training is ideal for replenishing nutrients. A high quality meal replacement shake is a great option for this. Shakes digest quickly to get nutrients back in the body. There is a 90 minute window to eat after training to still get benefit for recovery.
Hydration is also very important. The typical adult needs 96 ounces of water a day. The need is greater during intense training and if you are overweight. Be careful of having sport drinks. They definitely have a purpose, but much like carbs, they can just be extra calories if consumed before there is a need. Moderation of mixing water and sports drinks can be a strategy during your run.
Know your conditions. Being comfortable during the run is crucial. Getting in some runs before the event in different climates (or at least what is expected for that event) will give you a chance to know what you like to wear when you run. Proper footwear must be worn as well. Check out running stores to find what is the best shoe for you.
Find a buddy. It is not vital that you run with someone, but it can often be a great motivator to push each other. It is great to share the experience of training and completing the run.
The key is to have fun. What a great way to do something good for you, and to have one more thing to be thankful for.
For more with Jerod and 24-Hour Fitness, check out the Facebook Page for the North Colorado Springs location:
Updated: 05/20/2013 - Two weekends left to catch one great show!