I have a week left before my third official ultra trail race, a 55K race in Antelope Canyon with my ultra crazy running girlfriends, Crazy Amy and Crazy Jessica.
Sidenote: When I introduced Jessica to another running friend I met on Facebook at the Bay to Breakfast 8K cross country race this past Saturday, my Facebook friend asked me, “Oh, is this CRAZY Jessica?” Ha ha. Jessica’s reputation from these emails precede her!
Crazy Jessica & Crazy Kristen at the 2019 Bay to Breakfast 8K XC race
It’s officially “taper time,” those few weeks before a big race when you let your body rest and throttle back the mileage and training substantially. Although I must admit that the Crazy Trio has not been training as faithfully as we did before our first 50K race last February so it doesn’t seem like much of a taper for me!
That said, I feel pretty good about the upcoming Antelope Canyon race, in large part from some “secret hacks” I’ve discovered over the past year to improve my running, NONE OF WHICH ACTUALLY INVOLVE RUNNING AT ALL!
Stop reading now if you could care less about running. Otherwise, here it goes in no particular order.
I’ve been experimenting with fasting and fast mimicking diets (I love Prolon FMD!) and have lost 15 pounds doing so (and more importantly, kept the weight off!).
Crazy Amy told me that she read somewhere that you become 1% faster for every pound of body weight you lose. Anecdotally, I have to agree. My race times over the past few months have definitely been faster than last year and I’ve been training substantially less.
I am a zealot for the benefits of Rolfing. My local Rolfer, Sharalee Hoelscher, is a miracle worker on my body. I would butcher any explanation about the biomechanics or science behind rolfing but I can tell you from personal experience that I run pain free after every rolfing session. Plus, I’ve referred a ton of folks to her who all will tell you the same thing.
My favorite quote is from a physician friend that I referred to Sharalee who told me after her session, that “As a doctor, I am baffled about how great I feel after rolfing. They don’t teach you this stuff in med school!”
Improve my posture.
Sharalee has taught me that engaging a tight core is the secret to pain-free movement of any kind. Whenever I start to feel a twinge in my knee when I run, I engage my abdominal muscles and voila! No more pain and my speed increases with little effort.
I’ll never forget the agony of calf cramps during my first Blackwater Half Marathon trail race several years ago. A humbling experience, I limped the last four miles back to the finish line a full hour after the awards ceremony!
My cramps stemmed from a Sudafed induced dehydration state leading up to the race.
Lesson learned, I don’t take Sudafed anymore for a stuffy nose (doesn’t seems to have any effect on me anyway), I always eat a banana at least an hour before a long run, and Itry to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. I also add electrolyte drops to my water to keep me hydrated for extra benefit.
This is a tough one because many running blogs tout the benefits of gels, goos, gummies, and powdered nutrition supplements for endurance running. I’ve experimented with them all but have come to the conclusion that my body functions just fine without them and without the extra calories.
So long as I eat healthfully during the week (I’ve switched to a primarily pescatarian diet since beginning my intermittent fasts) and carry “real” food with me on long runs, such as nuts and raisins, I don’t seem to run out of steam. My guilty pleasure on a long run, however, is peanut M&M’s. Gotta remember to pack those for Antelope Canyon.
It’s hard to get your eight hours of sleep when you’re waking up at the ungodly hour of 4am to run. But I try really hard to sleep at least 8 hours every night. Yes, that means you’ll usually find me reading in bed by 7:30pm every night.
The phone rang last night at seven o’clock and my husband and I were both reading in bed. Andrew turns to me and with a deadpan face asks me, “My God. Who in the world would be calling us at this late hour?” I love that man.
Connect with other runners.
Even if you’re not running, connecting with other runners either in person or online does wonders to keep you motivated to run. I’ve “met” running friends through Facebook (case in point above) or met others at races and stay connected online the rest of the year. Reading about other people’s training and race schedules is highly motivating to get your butt off the couch. After all, you don’t want to be the slacker of the bunch.
Crazy Amy and I regularly cross train through strength training. I go through phases where sometimes I attend a boot camp and other times I attend Orange Theory 2-3 times weekly, in addition to running. A strong core and muscles improves your running efficiency which naturally makes you faster. Plus, it’s a great way to stay in shape without overtraining by running alone.
I have a stretching routine I practice every morning before my coffee. It was torture when I first started doing it but it feels so good now to stretch out my body after a good night’s rest. Stretching improves my flexibility which makes me more limber on my runs, especially the trails. I hear yoga is great but I’m keeping it low tech and free by stretching routinely on my own at home.
Register for races.
Last, but certainly not least, there is nothing more motivating than having the looming deadline of a race to get your butt out the door to run. Especially if it’s a long-ass race like a 50K.
I used to teach aerobics in college, at one point teaching 10 classes a week! Friends would tell me they admired how motivated I was to work out. I told them that I wasn’t motivated at all but teaching a class forced me to work out.
The same is true for races that you have paid for. I’m not motivated to just go out and train but if I know I have a race coming up, then I don’t want to be miserable during it because I was too lazy to get my arse out the door to train.
So, there you have it. My 10 simple (I didn’t say easy!) tricks to improve your running this year.
I hope to see you on the trails and wish you many PR’s (personal records) this year!
Kristen “Racking Up My Own PR’s This Year” Marks