A Puzzling Approach - Page 2
Knowing the entire course would be all uphill on a paved road and climb 4650 feet from start to finish at a 12-percent average grade, I put trail running on the back burner and focused on a combination of long, uphill tempo runs, ranging from 800 meters to 3200 meters all on paved roads.
In addition to simulating the course in your training, it’s also important to mimic your typical race-day routine. This encompasses external factors, including fuel, weather, clothing, navigating a crowded field, etc.
For example, if you’re training for a marathon, practice drinking the same fuel the race will provide (unless you plan to carry your own) at the very intervals you plan to eat or drink during the race so you know ahead of time what will agree (or disagree) with your digestive system. This consistency also trains your body to know when to expect to receive fuel and when not to expect it.
In preparation for any race longer than a half marathon, I always schedule a “trial run” for my clients where they practice everything they might encounter on race day. I typically ask them to run 70- to 80-percent of the race distance on a similar course, at the same time of day the race will be held, in the same typical weather conditions (if feasible). Additionally, I ask them to wear the same clothes they plan to race in so they can be aware of any discomforts (chaffing, rubbing, tightness, looseness, etc.) in order to allow ample time to make any necessary changes before race day arrives.
Another client, Lauren Burtard, of Basalt, Colorado, recounts her experience preparing for a winter uphill race: “Megan’s training plan was challenging and practical as she had me do the majority of my workouts on the same course I raced. The day of my race, I felt the best prepared I had ever been. I had a course PR of 15 minutes!”
The more closely you can simulate specific conditions you could potentially encounter on race day within your everyday training routine, the more tools you will have to dictate wise racing decisions before you even go to the start line.
Megan Lizotte is a decorated elite distance runner and online running coach at www.hgrunning.com. She is a three-time World Mountain Running Championships competitor, two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and 2011 USATF Trail Marathon Champion.