Here are some ideas that I hope will assist you in attaining your goals for the 2023 Taji 100.
A Little League coach of some years ago taught, “If you can conceive it, you can achieve it.” So true. So, I encourage you to apply your minds as well as your bodies to this endeavor … Visualize yourself getting out the door every day according to your plan … Visualize yourself satisfied and strong at the conclusion of every outing … Visualize your name on the Taji 100 scoreboard on March 1st with all those miles under your name!
Please note these are guidelines only. Since everyone’s body is just a little different, you should experiment and see what’s best for you. If you already have a program that works well, but is different than what is offered here, stay with what works. Whatever you do, listen to your body. It is telling you just about everything you need to know; it just uses a different language, and sometime it only whispers. That’s when body-sensing becomes such a valuable tool. From anticipating a need for water, to detecting unbalanced arm swings, to making full use of the lungs, sensing what one’s body is doing and what it needs leads to efficiency in running and reduction of injuries.
Research over the last several years has concluded that all one need do is keep normally hydrated during activities. There is no benefit for extra consumption of liquids leading up to a workout or an event. Urine color is an excellent indicator of hydration …
Assuming you are normally hydrated …
Before workout: Drink about 6-10 oz. of water within about 20 minutes of the start of your run.
During: If running longer than 45 minutes carry water with you. Sip along the way or drink about 6 oz. every 20-30 minutes or so. Since we perspire at different rates, adjust to what works for you. Harder workouts and hotter days both require more fluids, sometimes a lot more. Water is all most people need if out for an hour or less; over an hour, many find ‘sports drinks’ beneficial since they contain electrolytes. See what works for you.
After: Rehydrate. Follow the color chart above.
Before: Again, research has shown there is no benefit to “carbo loading” the night before an event or heavy workout. Normal consumption of nutritious foods in line with a food pyramid is all that is necessary. However, a few extra carbs (~25g) about 20 minutes before a run is very worthwhile. Just make sure they are complex carbs, not simple ones like sugar.
During: Every 45-60 minutes take about 25g more carbs.
After: Within 20-30 minutes…Protein to rebuild muscles, carbs to restore depleted stores, water to rehydrate, sodium for, well, sodium. And you can find them all in the proper proportion in…Chocolate milk! (An 8-oz. serving of low-fat chocolate milk also contains 2.5 grams of fat, 5 mg of cholesterol, 190 mg of sodium, 8 g of protein and 29 g of carbohydrates, including 1 g of dietary fiber; also 10 percent of the RDA of vitamin A, 6 percent RDA of vitamin C and 4 percent RDA of iron.) But whether you go for the chocolate milk or not, get the protein, the carbs and the fat roughly in that ratio to help your body recover and build for your next run.
Again, recent research has concluded that stretching cold muscles is counterproductive. If you do need to stretch, say for a specific injury, do so after warming up. But before every run, some loosening up will help eliminate injuries and make your run much more enjoyable. And for your Taji 100 runs, a warm up will let you start out just a bit more quickly than you would without a warm-up. There are all kinds of movements you can do, among some favorites are jumping jacks, ankle rotations, knee circles, hip circles, leg shakes, strides, leg swings (front/back and sideways), neck rolls and more. BE sure to do some motion for each part of your body.
Most runners start out too fast and end up too slow. During training, this tells bodies it’s okay to be crashing at the finish line. So while training, you want to start slowly and finish more quickly, thereby building strength and endurance. During an event, or during your Taji runs, you will maximizes speed—and therefore distance—by running at a consistent pace for the entire run. In fact, all world records in distance running are being set when the runner has consistent splits (minutes per mile) throughout the race!
FUN WHILE RUNNING
Mix it up. Different routes, different times of day…With buddies, without buddies, different buddies. Sprint to the corner…Walk to the mailbox. Street, trail, beach, flat, hilly, the high school track. Smile. Say hi to every dog. Do an out-and-back from your favorite coffee brewer, pub, deli, sweetie. Run sideways for 10 yards…Switch sides…Repeat. Run backwards for 10 yards. Slalom down a hill.
Rehydrate while you walk or take a very easy jog. And stretch, especially calves, hamstrings, and quads. Plenty of good suggestions online; try YouTube. And yoga is excellent.
Going up: Hills are for energy conservation. Shorten your stride forward and stay tall. As the slope increases, treat hills like stairs: Even shorter stride forward, slight tilt forward and let the glutes and quads (butt and thighs) do the work.
Going down: Resist the urge to take long strides forward as that dramatically increases the shock to your body, which dramatically increases the risk of injury. Keep your forward stride short and let your stride lengthen behind you as you glide down the hill.
Most runners only use about 70% of their lung capacity. Between poor posture and shallow breathing, the lungs are terribly underutilized. Think long neck…long spine…And ever so gently pinch together and drop your shoulder blades. Then take full breaths without straining. This will pay off in a big way, but may take some practice.
Your core is your answer. Efficient, injury free running requires the use of your core. And your core isn’t a six pack. A core goes from the pubic bone to the arm pits and all the way around. Cross train accordingly.
In an event like the Taji 100, there’s a risk that participants will try to go every day. If you are at that level of fitness—and youth!—then that’s up to you. But rest is terribly important because it allows the body to recover and build. That applies both mentally and physically. One day (or two) off per week early in February may well prevent the injury that will sideline you for the entire final week.
And many, many thanks for participating in the Taji 100!
Certified Chi Running Instructor
© Ed Malley 2013