Thursday, January 22, 2015

Time to Shop That Fall Marathon

Fall marathon shopping? Yep. Most runners have spring fever on their minds this time of year, planning out their spring 5K, 10Ks, and/or in training for those spring half and full marathons. But it’s also time to start planning ahead for fall.

Fall marathons have become so popular that many now cap the total number of runners and/or use a lottery system of registering runners. It’s no longer a given that you’ll get into NYC, Marine Corps, or Chicago, just to name a few. Even some smaller races have gone to a cap and lottery system in order to keep their races small and manageable. 

Because of the cap and lottery it’s best to have Plan B or maybe even a Plan C option. Many races open registration in the spring, but don't announce whether you've you’ve made the lottery until summer. There’s nothing more frustrating than to have started training for your race only to find out that you didn’t make the lottery and all the other races are closed.

There are other considerations too. Where do you want to run? Do you want to travel or stay local? Flat or hilly? Warmer climate or cold? Is your goal to run hard with the hopes of a PR or are you running to enjoy the view? Use this time to ask yourself these questions so you can shop for the race that best fits what you're looking for.

Also, use this time to prepare your family. They need to be on board with your training and racing
expectations. They need to know that you’ll have to put in lots of hours hitting the road or trail, particularly on the weekends. Are they expecting to go with you to the race? Racing and family trips often don’t mix very well unless you’ve set the ground work for expectations early on.

The Disney races have become extremely popular the past few years. Sounds awesome, but “The most magical place on earth” can quickly become Dante’s Inferno, if everyone isn’t on the same page. Exploring a 40 square-mile theme park the day before a marathon in which you plan to PR isn't the best idea. Is your spouse or significant other ready to tackle the park with kids solo? No kids? Is your spouse or significant other ready to do things solo or be stuck in the room? Seems like simple questions couples and/or families would have discussed, but they're often overlooked.

Below are some things to consider when planning your fall marathon:
  • List the races you’d like to do. Rank them in order of preference.
  • Find out if your race of preference has a cap and/or uses a lottery registration system. If it does, create a Plan B and Plan C in case you don't get your top choice.
  • Have a family meeting to discuss the upcoming training. Recruit their support. If the family is coming to the race, discuss what you will and will not be able to do during the trip.
  • Plan enough time to train (12-14 weeks for a half marathon; 16-18 weeks for a full-marathon)
  • Build your base mileage so you’ll begin your training strong and decrease your chance of injury.  The month before your training begins your totally weekly mileage if training for a half should be 15-20 miles. If training for a full marathon, it should be 20-25 miles.
  • Investigate lodging and travel details early. Hotels tend to book up fast for the larger races.
  • Mark your calendar with the race registration opening date. Popular races can fill up within minutes of registration opening. So mark your calendar not only with the date but the time of day that registration will begin so you can plan to be sitting at your computer at the ready. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

BRRR It's Cold Outside!! What to Wear on that Cold Run.

Not sure what to wear on these cold runs? Here's a few tips:

  • ·         Dress as if it's 10-15 degrees warmer than it really is. Your core temp will increase by that much when running, so if you dress for the "warm-up" you won't end up overheating from being overdressed.
  • ·         Layer up. Several layers of technical fabric helps with warmth and moisture management. Your perspiration will travel through the layers instead of ending up with one heavy, soggy layer. The number of layers needed will vary from person to person.  Also, with layers, you have the option to remove a layer if you got hot on the run. With one heavy layer, you're pretty much stuck unless you want to join the Polar Bear Club. :-)
  • ·         If it's windy and cold, wear a light wind breaker over top the layers to prevent the wind from penetrating the layers.
  • ·         Wear a cap that covers your ears. A lot of heat is lost at your head. Wearing a cap helps hold that heat in. Your ears can be at risk for frost bite if not covered, so be sure your cap is big enough to cover those lobes! ....or wear ear muffs or a wide headband that's designed to cover the ears.
  • ·         Don’t wear metal jewelry outdoors in the cold. Metal conducts cold, thus increasing your chances of frostbite. Uncovered ears donning metal earrings are particularly at risk!!
  • ·         Wear gloves. I prefer to wear mittens made of technical fabric with a wind barrier. I've found that by having my fingers together inside the mitten creates more heat and the wind barrier fabric holds in that body heat keeping my hands warmer. If I do wear gloves, I usually end up pulling my fingers out of the finger slots and balling them up inside the palm of the glove to get the same effect. Hand warmers work well too. There are a couple of different brands, but they all work the same. They look kind of like oversized tea bags. When exposed to air, they heat up. Stick one warmer in each glove and they work well in keeping your hands toasty.
  • ·         Keep those tootsies warm! Most running shoes are designed to breathe. In the winter though, that can mean chilly feet! To keep your feet warm, try wearing two thinner layers of socks. This will help increase warmth as well as help with moisture management. There are also some great fabrics such as SmartWool, that works well in keeping feet warm.
  • ·         Not clothing related, but still important....Stay hydrated. You sweat just a much in the winter as you do in the summer. But the less humid atmosphere of winter creates a deceptive perception that you're not sweating as much. Because it's not as humid, your perspiration evaporates quickly instead of staying on your skin and/or soaking your clothing. Kind of the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome. So, be sure to hydrate before, during, and after your run.
Runner's World has a great tool for helping you determine what to wear based on various cold weather conditions. Check it out here