Author: RunNaperville

Self-Care for Runners: Making Time for Recovery


Self-Care for Runners: Making Time for Recovery

Running is hard on the body, especially if you are new to running or training hard for a race. The longer the distance of the goal race, the harder the training demands on your body. To stay healthy and prevent overtraining, incorporating self-care is just as important as following your running plan. Here are some key areas on which to focus:

Sleep. Sleep is one of the key ways your body recovers from the demands placed on it by your running program. Everyone is different, but generally, you need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to properly recover from your workouts. Going to sleep at the same time every night, staying away from screens (tv, phone, computer) for a few hours before bed and eating dinner several hours before bedtime are all helpful tactics to promote restful, restorative sleep. It’s also best to sleep in a cool, dark room. If you have anxiety at bedtime or trouble “shutting off” your mind, consider a weighted blanket. 

Eating and nutrition. Eating enough calories and the right nutrients provides the building blocks your body needs to recover from training and injury. It is important to pay attention to total calories, macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to ensure that you are getting enough of each. There are several phone apps (My Fitness Pal, My Plate, Fooducate) that can help you keep track of your food intake and make sure you are getting adequate nutrition. 

Alternatively, you can consult a registered dietitian for a meal plan tailored to your specific needs. As you ramp up your training, monitor your weight. Unless you are on a specific weight loss plan, your weight should be staying stable within a 3–5-pound range. If you are consistently losing weight as you ramp up your miles, add some additional high-quality protein and carbohydrates to your daily diet. 

Hydration. Adequate fluid intake goes hand-in-hand with proper nutrition in giving your body the tools it needs for training recovery. Make sure you hydrate properly before every run: two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before you run, drink another 10 to 12 ounces. During your run, drink approximately 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes. Adjust this as necessary based on your own “sweat rate.” For half marathon long runs, consider replacing half of the water with an equal amount of electrolyte drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) You can mix the water and electrolyte drink for convenience and digestibility. In addition to your running-related hydration, try to stay hydrated throughout the day. Everyone’s daily hydration needs are different, so the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale or clearer usually means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, you probably need to drink more fluids. However, be aware that other things (vitamins, food, medication, etc.) can influence the color of your urine. 

Stress management. Running stresses the body, so it is important to minimize other sources of stress during times of intense training in your running program. It is difficult to avoid stressors in life, but if possible, avoid things like moving to a new living space, job changes and other disruptions when you are in the most difficult portions of your training and in the weeks leading up to a key race. Since life disruptions are difficult to prevent, try some stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing or general relaxation. There are lots of stress management phone apps available (Calm, Headspace) that can help you learn to relax and meditate. These practices can help improve your recovery from training.

Body work (massage, physical therapy, etc.). One way to increase your work capacity for running is to seek active recovery services from a sports physical therapist or certified and licensed massage therapist. Modalities such as compression boots (Normatec, Rapid Reboot), vibration massage (Legiral, Hypervolt), manual therapy (from a physical therapist or sports chiropractor) and massage therapy (from a certified and licensed massage therapist) are great ways to accelerate your recovery from hard workouts.

Time management. Running takes time out of an already-busy schedule. A big part of self-care is managing your time so that your life isn’t overbooked and you have time for everything important in your life. Keeping a calendar (readily available on your computer and phone) is a great way to manage and evaluate your priorities and activities. Make sure you schedule your runs on your calendar and include free time in your schedule. Your calendar will give you a structure from which to turn down activities that overburden you and/or are not high priority.

Cross-training. Running works your muscles in a very specific way. Cross-training (exercise other than running) helps to balance the muscles of your body. I discussed strength training in this injury proofing blog post. Additionally, low-impact or upper body-intensive cardio (such as cycling, rowing or the elliptical trainer) are all ways to give your running-specific muscles a break while continuing to elevate your fitness. 

Good self-care will allow you to train harder without breaking you down with illness or injury. Focus on these areas to ensure training success.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Off track? 5 ways to get back on plan (and stay there)


Off track? 5 ways to get back on plan (and stay there)

You have been training for your planned fall Healthy Driven Naperville race and have been following your training plan. And then life happened. Whether it was travel, illness, work, family, injury or some combination – now you are off-track. So now what? Here are five tips for getting – and staying on – plan. 

  1. Get back on an adjusted plan. Getting back on plan will be easier the sooner you act. If you were busy and missed a few runs during the week but you completed the week’s long run, you should be fine to continue your plan. If you have missed a few runs (including your long run) but did not miss a full week (and are not injured), just repeat this week’s running plan next week and proceed from there. However, if you find you have missed a full week of training runs (due to a reason other than a running-related injury), ease back into your plan by repeating the previous week in the plan and proceeding from there. In this case, you will probably need to ramp up the distance of your long runs more quickly since you have effectively lost two weeks in your training plan. To do this, add one extra mile to your next long run and then add an addition mile (total of two) to the following long run and continue with the two added miles until you reach your planned maximum distance run (about 14 miles for the half marathon, eight miles for the 10K and four miles for the 5K). 
  1. Pick a new goal distance. If you have missed a full week of training or more due to a minor running-related injury or you have missed two or more full weeks of running training not due to injury, you will likely need to adjust your race goals. If you are a beginner, the easiest way to adjust your goal with the Healthy Driven Naperville races is to drop down to the next shorter distance. If you had been training for the half marathon, drop down to the 10K. If you had been training for the 10K, move to the 5K. If you were already training for the 5K, consider a run/walk or a slower race time goal. Then, transition to a different training plan for your new race distance – look for one online or consult a running coach or running group. If you are an experienced runner and you want to stick with your original race distance, you should adjust your race time goal to something slower. 
  1. Pick a new race date. If you are more seriously injured and/or any pain persists when you return to training after following the above steps, you should seek a doctor’s advice and work with a trainer or running coach to regroup. It is likely you will need to choose a different goal race and allow yourself more calendar time to recover and train safely. You will also need to work on injury prevention. One positive note – Healthy Driven Naperville races will let you defer your race to next year (for a fee) through the end of August.
  1. Focus on key workouts. Now that you are on a new or revised plan, try to avoid future training adjustments due to missing multiple runs. The best way to do that is to make sure that you run at least one or two of your planned runs each week, especially your long weekend run. This way, if you miss a few other runs in a week, you’ll still be on track for your overall race goal. 
  1. Prevent boredom. Once you are back on track with your new plan and race goals, you will want to redouble your efforts to avoid boredom and burnout to avoid missing key workouts. Here are some tips for keeping the doldrums out of your training plan:
  • Ease up (or race!). Take an assessment to determine if your burnout stems from overtraining or from staleness/boredom. If you show symptoms of overtraining – higher than normal resting heart rate, chronic muscle and/or joint aches, persistent fatigue, difficulty in completing normal workouts – it’s time to ease up on your training volume and/or intensity. On the other hand, if you’re feeling bored with your running workouts, it might be time to schedule a short race. A 5K a month or two before your fall race is fine. This short race should help you hone your performance and lift the enthusiasm for your fall goal race.
  • Plan long run rewards. Choose a reward that you give yourself only in relation to your long runs. This might be a special pre-run meal, post-run treat or activity, or a special new audiobook or music download to listen to during your run.
  • Mix it up. Make sure your training plan has a good mix of pacing, run lengths and terrain. Change the type of cross-training you do occasionally to ensure you don’t repeat the same workouts day after day, week after week. 
  • Release the pressure! It’s okay to have time goals in key races, but if you find you’re putting undue pressure on yourself to meet time goals in every workout, it is probably time to ease up for a while and focus on just enjoying your runs. 
  • Create a support system (and use it). Make time for running group activities, they allow you to connect and commiserate with other runners and can give your training a big boost. You can find a running group at your local running shoe store. 

Follow the tips above and you will be back to race training in no time.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Your Injury-Proof Training Plan


Your Injury-Proof Training Plan

Injuries are a concern when running, especially as runners increase mileage or train for a race. The risk is even higher for new runners and runners training for their first race. As you train for this fall’s Naperville Half Marathon, 10K or 5K, consider the following five steps to minimize your chances of getting hurt.

1. Build a solid foundation. Follow a professionally created training program that increases your mileage slowly and methodically from your current fitness level to a level that supports your goal race distance and your time goal. There are several reputable websites that offer running programs (some are free and some involve a fee for ongoing coaching) that you can tailor to your needs. Alternatively, work with a certified running coach to have a customized program created just for you. They key is to follow a program that:

  • Starts from your current fitness level.
  • Increases your workload gradually – no more than 10 percent mileage increase per week or per session.
  • Includes a slow, methodical increase of long runs to a run length consistent with your goal race. For example, half marathoners should ramp to a long run of 12-14 miles, 10K runners should increase to a long run of 6-8 miles and 5K runners should ramp to a long run of 3-5 miles.
  • Includes a slow increase of speed training based on current fitness level. If you are a beginner, your initial running training program should contain no speed work.
  • Includes runs of different length, speed, running surface/terrain and hilliness – variety is important to prevent injury.

Also, be realistic. If you are a new runner, build your running base and run regularly for at least three months before attempting your first 10K race and for at least six months before attempting your first half marathon race. 

2. Be consistent. Now that you have your training plan, follow it closely. Consistency is one of the keys to preventing injury. This doesn’t mean you can’t miss a workout occasionally, but if you find yourself missing a week of runs, this can be a recipe for injury. Try to stay consistent by keeping the number of runs and miles per week close to your plan. If you miss a full week of training, ease back into the plan (possibly by repeating the previous week in the plan and proceeding from there) or work with your running coach to get back on track safely. If you miss more than one week, you will definitely need to repeat previous weeks in your training plan; work with a trainer or running coach to regroup and possibly change your race goals and/or goal race distance. 

3. Develop good running form. It is difficult to “force” yourself into perfect running form and it can be dangerous, especially if your muscles aren’t prepared for that method of running. However, to prevent undue force on the body, landing with each foot underneath your body – instead of in front of your body – is usually associated with lower ground forces on the body resulting in lower injury rate.

The easiest way to achieve this is to shorten and quicken your stride. If you find you are an “overstrider,” practice shorter, quicker strides with feet landing underneath you on a regular basis.

One way to do this is to practice “quick feet” running drills which increase your cadence (the number of times your feet hit the ground per minute) and minimize the amount of time each of your feet spend on the ground. Some people call this the “hot coals” drill since running on hot coals would certainly quicken your stride and shorten your foot strike time. Try practicing this drill a few times per week by doing 30 second intervals of “quick feet” followed by 30 seconds of “normal” running and repeat five times for a total of five minutes.

4. Strength train. Running is a very repetitive sport. As a result, it carries a high probability of overuse injuries. To prevent these injuries, strengthening and mobilizing key areas of the body are important preventive measures. Focus on these areas:

  • Core: Strengthen the lateral and anterior core with exercises such as plank and side plank variations.
  • Hips/glutes: Strengthen the legs, glutes and hip stabilizers with exercises such as lunge variations, deadlifts and glute bridge variations and with resistance band hip abduction work (such as clams). Also, keep the hips and hamstrings mobile with key stretches for those areas.
  • Ankles/calves: Strengthen the ankles and calves with exercises such as calf raises, jumping/plyometrics and banded ankle work. Also, keep the calves mobile with calf stretching. Try doing some of this foot and ankle work barefoot for added benefit. A strength training program for runners, such as RunSMART can help you work on all of these areas.

5. Make pace a priority. To avoid overtraining and injury, most running should be at a slow, conversational pace. Many people overtrain on their easy days and carry fatigue into their hard runs. Make sure you keep your easy days easy, even if you are a veteran runner. Following the pacing of your running program, as well as the distances, helps keep injury at bay.

These five steps will help you avoid injury and have a great race season. However, even when a runner follows all the rules, they can still become injured. Injury rates among runners are fairly high, primarily because running is a repetitive, high-impact sport. You may still become injured despite being careful to follow your program, eat right, get plenty of rest and strength train.

So, you’re injured. Now what?

See the doctor. First, any nagging or lingering pain needs to be properly diagnosed. A bit of soreness is normal after difficult runs, but if pain persists over a few runs, worsens when you are running, is keeping you awake or is significant in terms of intensity, it is time to seek help from a medical professional. Depending on the injury, they may do a manual exam, take X-rays and/or do other types of testing and analysis (MRI, etc.) to make a diagnosis.

Ask questions. Once you have a diagnosis from the doctor, ask some follow up questions:

  • Can I run? Chances are you will get a “no” to this question, at least for a while.
  • How long do I need to stop running? At this point, the answer to this question might be unknown.
  • Can I do other activities? What would those be? This is a very important question as the answer will allow you to formulate a cross-training plan to preserve your fitness.
  • Do I need physical therapy? Medication? Surgery? Immobilization/casting? What treatment options do I have along those lines?Depending on the injury, there may be multiple options. Your doctor may have a recommendation but be sure to ask what all the options are and discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • What are the next steps regarding medical follow-up? Make sure you make and keep any subsequent doctor’s appointments.

Follow the doctor’s plan. The doctor may prescribe medication (such as anti-inflammatories), immobilization/casting, physical therapy, meeting with a specialist, etc. Make sure you follow the agreed-upon plan.

Create a cross-training program. Based on your doctor’s recommendations about what activities are acceptable while injured, create an exercise plan. Being a runner and not being able to run can be difficult, but it is important to find exercise that you can do to preserve your fitness. This will help you return to running more efficiently once your injury is resolved. Ideally this exercise plan will include some form of cardiovascular exercise and some form of strength training. Alternative forms of cardio that your doctor might suggest could include biking, swimming, walking, elliptical trainer, etc. Strength training options from your physician will likely avoid the injured area. For example, you may need to do upper body and core strength training only for a while. It is important to maintain these muscle groups as you are recovering. You may be told to “let pain be your guide.” In that case, be aware that the pain may manifest itself during the activity or it may show up that night or the next day. In these cases, the offending activity needs to be discontinued or scaled back until it no longer causes pain.

Take care of your body. As you are recovering, it is important to stay well hydrated, eat nutritious foods and get enough rest. Be careful not to overeat (out of boredom or sadness over your injury) as weight gain while recovering from injury could hamper your return to sport. If possible, try to minimize any other stresses in your life. Your cross-training program can help with managing stress.

Return to sport. Once your injury is resolved and you receive your doctor’s permission to resume running, do so cautiously. Don’t jump immediately back into the training load you were doing when you got hurt. Depending on the amount of time you were injured, you may need to start back with a beginner’s program. Consult your physician for advice on how aggressively to return to running. You may also want to consult a running coach or fitness professional to help you create your return-to-running program. With a good plan and a little time and patience, you’ll get back on track.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Why I Run for a Cause: Cliff Kalish, Path to Recovery Foundation

I’ve been running the Naperville Half Marathon every year and raising money for charity since 2017. Tragedy struck our family in 2016 and it means so much to me to raise funds and awareness to help battle addiction (substance use disorder). I grew up in Naperville with my parents and 3 brothers. I’m 45 years old now and I still live in Naperville with my wife and 4 kids. Here’s my story.

Monday morning May 16, 2016

The start of what I thought was a normal week. I was travelling to Ft. Lauderdale for work and the plane was getting ready to land. I noticed as soon as I powered on my phone it started buzzing as my wife Heidi was trying to call. I texted her and said I would call once I landed-she responded saying her and the kids were alright, but I should call as soon as I could. I immediately got that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that something bad happened. All I can really remember about calling back is the sadness in her voice shakily saying, “to brace myself, Randy had been found dead that morning from a drug overdose.”

Randy died of a heroin (fentanyl) overdose. He was only 29 years old. We didn’t know he was battling addiction so you can imagine what a shock this was to me and all my family. After he passed away, we found a card in his wallet for an addiction counselor which brought forth the realization that he was aware of his substance use disorder battle and he wanted to overcome it. Everyone deals with loss-that’s a part of life, but I think it was then I knew that I personally wanted to fight back and help those battling substance use disorder. I’ve always believed there’s a way back if you’re willing to fight for it.

At the time, I didn’t realize how big the opiate epidemic was becoming in our great country. Every day, almost 200 people die after overdosing on opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl. Roughly 25% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. In fact, 80% of heroin users first misused prescription opioids. We believe my brother was one of those 80%.

My whole family is heavily involved in this fight. I’ve been raising funds and awareness for a PATH to recovery Foundation in Naperville. My father, Don Kalish is the president and my mother, Roberta Kalish heads up the PATH grief support group. I’m a board member as well.

I’ve been the top fundraiser at the Naperville Half Marathon from 2017-2022 and collectively we’ve raised over $160K for the fight! I’m looking forward to continuing the cause for years to come (hopefully my legs will aid me 😊)!

PATH Information

PATH is a not-for profit foundation committed to supporting, educating, and promoting recovery for individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders. PATH now also provides recovery coaching services using a strength based, supportive approach designed to teach individuals and families how to sustain a healthy approach to their own recovery. All donations will be used to help us to continue to provide these to the communities we serve. Besides PATH family support services, donations enable PATH to provide free or reduced cost recovery coaching services to the individual or family in need of these services. Our program is 16 weeks and provides a great foundation of recovery. 

Also, if you or anyone you know is having addiction issues, I’m happy to discreetly put them in contact with the right people to get started on their path to recovery.

Hot weather, wet weather – training in the elements


Hot weather, wet weather – training in the elements

Many of you are probably training for the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon, 10K or 5K (or another fall race). By October, the weather will likely be much more favorable for running a successful race. Unfortunately, your training plan calls for long runs in the summer, during the heat, humidity (and possibly rain and thunderstorms) of July through September. There’s also the possibility of elevated air pollution. Here are my top tips to successfully make it through your challenging summer runs:

Watch the weather. First and foremost, watch the weather forecast. If you learn in advance that your long run will fall on a day with less favorable conditions, adjust your plan accordingly (see my backup plan ideas below). Keep in mind that running performance drops below optimal levels when temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and will fall 10% or more when temperatures exceed 80. And remember, outdoor runs are never safe during a thunderstorm.

Air quality matters. Canadian wildfires and Ozone have been causing more air quality issues than we have had in previous years. If you are sensitive to smoke and/or ozone, and especially if you have any lung or heart disease, check the AirNow EPA app and/or the website. You can enter your location and get real-time and forecasted levels of ozone and PM 2.5 particles (including smoke). Armed with this information, you can plan your runs accordingly and create a backup plan if necessary. Both ozone and PM 2.5 (including smoke) can cause headaches, coughing and shortness of breath; so monitor the air quality and be on the lookout for these symptoms to see if you need to adjust your running schedule on days with poor air quality. 

Adjust to the heat slowly. You can acclimate to the heat of summer, but it will take 5-10 sessions of running in the heat at a much slower pace (and possibly for a shorter distance) than you normally run. Make sure you are well hydrated before and during these runs. Here’s how:

  • Two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.
  • During the run, drink approximately 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes. Adjust this as necessary based on your own ”sweat rate”. If your run will last longer than 60 minutes, consider replacing half of the water with an equal amount of electrolyte drink (Gatorade Endurance which is served at the Healthy Driven Naperville races, Powerade, etc.). Mix the water and electrolyte drink for convenience and digestibility.

Beware of cramping. When you get a cramp or sudden pain while you are running, you need to slow or stop until the pain subsides. If necessary, stop or walk back to your starting point. Gentle movement (flexing of the foot in the case of calf cramp) will help it to subside. The next step is to figure out what caused the cramping to prevent it from happening again. Check out the most common causes and suggested remedies:

  • Heat and/or dehydration. Is it warmer than it has been in recent days? Did you drink less fluid than normal? If either of these is the case, then it is likely that you are dehydrated. Next time you run, make sure you pay attention to your hydration. Make sure you drink 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before you run. Then in the 30 minutes before you head out, slowly drink 10-12 ounces of water. If the cramping is accompanied by other symptoms of heat illness (see below), stop, and follow the tips in the heat illness section below. 
  • Inadequate warmup. If it’s not warm, you’re well hydrated and you were running at a moderate pace, it is possible your cramping came from an inadequate warmup. Make sure you walk for 5 to 10 minutes and do some movement and controlled range of motion exercises before you begin your runs.
  • Overdoing it. If cramping occurred while doing speed work, it is possible that you were going too fast for your current conditioning or you ran too fast too suddenly. Next time, try going a little slower and/or do a more thorough warmup before attempting the speed work.

If cramping persists into the next day or recurs the next time you run, consult your doctor or running coach as you may be experiencing chronic dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or other nutritional or medical issues that require professional diagnosis. 

Know the signs of heat illness. If you do run outside in the heat, watch for signs of heat illness (nausea, fatigue/weakness, dizziness, cramping, confusion). If any of these occur, stop immediately and cool your body (go indoors, hydrate, put cool water on your head, neck and body). If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.  For more details on heat illness, check this CDC guide

Beware of ticks. Hot weather means ticks. The CDC warns of an abundance of various types of ticks this season. Fortunately, they also offer great advice on avoiding tick bites.

In addition, here are my own tick-related tips for runners:

  • Clothing color is a mixed bag when it comes to ticks. Studies have shown that ticks are attracted to light and white-colored clothing. However, ticks are also easier to spot and remove from light colored clothing. Ticks are more attracted to the human body than to any clothing, so be sure to follow the post-run body inspection discussed below. 
  • Wear bug repellent that repels ticks as well as mosquitos. The CDC site offers some natural/herbal options if you are not interested in wearing chemical sprays while running. They also provide instructions for treating your clothing to repel ticks. 
  • Run on paved trails or crushed gravel rather than on dirt trails. Run toward the center of the trail as much as possible. If you must walk through long grass or brush, pick up your feet carefully rather than shuffling to minimize disturbing the ticks.
  • Avoid running near small trees and bushes. Ticks can brush onto you from bushes and trees as you are running. If you feel something small hit you, make sure you brush it away. It’s a good idea to brush yourself off anytime you have moved through brush or bushes. 
  • Make sure your socks are tight to your feet and ankles. Some types of socks (like roll-down anklet socks) provide a reservoir for ticks to fall between the sock and your ankle.
  • Follow the CDC recommendations to check your clothing and your body (check the areas listed on the CDC site and check your feet/between your toes) and shower right away (within 1-2 hours) after running outdoors.   Wash your clothing in hot water after each run and dry at high temperature for at least 10 minutes. Finally, shake out your running shoes and keep them outside (the garage is a good place) between runs. 

Have a backup plan. If it looks like your long run is planned for a hot, humid day, a day with forecasted thunderstorms or a poor air quality day, consider these options:

  • Switch the day. Consider moving your long run 1-2 days earlier (or later) if your schedule allows. Your long run is your most important run each week, so moving or adjusting a couple of your shorter runs won’t hurt your training. The goal for the week is to have a successful long run.
  • Start early/switch the time. Starting at 5 a.m. can make a big difference in the amount of heat and humidity you face during your long run. Getting some or most of your long run in before the sun rises can improve your chances for success – and in the summer, sunrise is very early.  Air quality is usually at its best early in the day as well. Similarly, switching the time of your run to avoid thunderstorms will keep you safe. The weather app on your phone can be configured to detect lightning in your area; seek shelter immediately if lightning strikes in your area during a run.
  • Find the shade. A shady course can make as much as a 10-degree difference in ambient temperature and will help you to avoid the heat. Remember, shade is not an option to avoid thunderstorms.
  • Go indoors. Consider doing your long run on a treadmill or indoor track. It might be more tedious, but the conditions will be much more favorable. This will allow you to achieve your goal training pace more successfully than running outside in 90+ degree heat, during poor air quality days or during bad storms Avoid boredom by listening to music or a podcast or running with a training partner. 

Slow your pace in the heat. If all else fails, you have no other option and you must run in the heat and humidity (and you are not acclimated to the heat), hydrate (as discussed above) and slow your pace. One of the main purposes of the long run is to teach your body to handle exertion and energy expenditure over a long period of time. In the heat, exertion levels and energy expenditure will be much higher for a given running pace. Hydrate properly before your run and go as slowly as necessary to complete your long run, taking frequent hydration breaks (including both water and electrolytes) and walking breaks. If you have extra water (don’t use an electrolyte drink), pour some on your head and on the back of your neck to keep cool. Don’t worry about your pace or time; the training effect is occurring and in your next long run, weather permitting, you will do and feel much better. 

Keep sweat out of your eyes. Sweating is important in running; it’s how your body keeps cool. You don’t want to prevent or discourage sweating. To keep sweat out of your eyes, try a headband or an absorbent hat. There are baseball-style running hats on the market that do a good job of absorbing sweat and shield your head from the sun.  Some newer running hats even use fabrics with cooling technology such as UA Iso-chill. 

Prevent chafing. Chafing can really be an issue in the heat due to sweating. For chafing you already have, try a healing ointment such as Aquaphor. To prevent chafing going forward, try an anti-chafe balm such as Body Glide. Apply this to any areas where your clothing rubs against your body (or you have body parts rubbing against body parts.) Common areas include feet and toes, inner thighs, inside of upper arms, bra lines/seams for women, nipple area for men, etc. Apply before every run but especially for your longer runs. Anti-chafing products wash off very well in the shower after your runs.

Avoid hot spots and blisters. Running in the heat can aggravate blistering due to the extra sweating that occurs. To minimize blisters, make sure you have a good pair of properly fitting running shoes. If you are uncertain, go to one of the local running stores (Dick Pond, Road Runner Sports, Naperville Running Company). Next step, socks. I personally prefer double layer socks (Wrightsock is the brand I wear) as they are virtually blister proof. Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product applied to the toes and other hot spots can help prevent blisters as well. For blisters you already have, if they aren’t serious (no broken skin), Compeed or similar blister cushions provide great relief. If you have already developed more serious blisters with broken skin and/or infection, seek medical attention.

Stay patient and confident through these hot, long runs and in the fall when the weather cools, you will reap the benefits of difficult training in summer weather. 

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

5K or 10K: Choosing the Best Race and Training Plan for You


5K or 10K: Choosing the Best Race and Training Plan for You

Now that the Healthy Driven Naperville races include both 5K and 10K options, you might feel like you have a tough decision to make between these two race distances. Here are some considerations to help you make your choice. 

New to running? Choose the 5K distance and select a run-walk or beginner 5K training program to prepare. This distance and approach will give you plenty of challenge while helping minimize the risk of injury, which can be significant for a new runner. 

If you have been doing some running recently and regularly, you have a tougher choice to make. Think about the following as you consider what’s best for you:

Training time. If you have been doing at least some running (3-4 miles, 2-3 times per week) for a few months, you have a couple of options. You are in a great position to continue your current training and can expect to run a solid 5K race. Alternatively, you have enough calendar time to increase the distance of your longest run to 6-8 miles and can consider running the 10K. If you opt for the 10K, select a beginner 10K training program. Keep in mind that training programs for the 10K will include a long run of 6-8 miles (vs. 3-4 miles for the 5K) and more total weekly mileage than a 5K program, so the 10K will require more of a weekly training time commitment. 

Speed vs. endurance. If you are a more experienced 5K runner with a few 5K races under your belt, you can either focus on speed and on improving your 5K race time for this fall, or you can consider improving your endurance and moving up to the 10K.

If you stick with the 5K, choose an intermediate or advanced training program which will include 1-2 speed work sessions per week to help you set a new 5K personal record or achieve a specific goal time. This more advanced program will also increase your weekly mileage and long run distance compared to beginner 5K programs. 

Some of you have probably been running 5K races for a few years. You may feel like you have gotten as fast as you can in the 5K race and are looking for something different or are hoping to increase your endurance. Perhaps you would like to eventually move up to the half marathon. If this sounds like you, the new Naperville Healthy Driven 10K race could be the perfect next challenge. Since this will be your first 10K race, choose a beginner 10K training program which will focus on increasing total weekly mileage and include building up to a long run of 6-8 miles. 

Regardless of which option you choose, the Naperville Half Marathon, 10K and 5K race organizers will allow you to change your race distance; you can move from the 5K to the 10K via an online registration change (for a fee) or you can move from the 10K to the 5K (for free) online, at the expo or even ad hoc during the race. (In this case you will have to swap your finisher medal at the awards tent.) So, if you change your mind on your race distance during training or your training doesn’t go as planned, you can always switch race distances. 

Now it’s time to choose a race distance and start training. The 5K and 10K race distances are both great goals to motivate you through your summer training.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

You’re registered, now what? Creating your summer training plan.


You’re registered, now what? Creating your summer training plan.

So, you just registered for the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon, 10K or 5K this fall? Maybe you are still thinking about registering? With approximately four months until race day, it is time to get started on creating a running plan. Here are the key components to consider:

Get medical clearance. Check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to train for a fall race. This is especially important if you are older, have cardiovascular risk factors, bone/joint issues, are taking medication or have other health concerns. If you have recently had the COVID-19 virus and/or have persistent post-COVID symptoms, such as exercise-induced fatigue, it is important to work with your doctor to get the appropriate testing and health screening to ensure your safe return to exercise. In general, when in doubt, check with your doctor. Once you have your doctor’s approval, it’s time to get to work.

Choose the right footwear. Before you start your program, make sure you go to a reputable running shoe store for a professional shoe fitting. You’ll use these shoes a lot in the next few months, so it’s worth investing in a well-fitting pair (or two pairs if you can – alternate using them throughout your training plan). Good shoes go a long way toward preventing unnecessary injuries. A good running shoe store will have a treadmill and the salesperson will watch you run in different types of shoes to make sure you get the right shoe for your running gait. 

Choose a distance. The next step is to decide on a race distance for your goal race. Based on your current training level, make sure you have enough time to complete the required training before your goal race. You definitely don’t want to try to shorten a training program to fit it in with your race. If you don’t have enough time, choose a shorter goal race. If you are new to running, consider training to run/walk the Naperville 5K. If you are doing some running, but aren’t currently running at least 8-10 miles per week, consider running the Naperville 5K or the new Naperville 10K this fall. If you are already running 8-10 miles or more per week, you can target the Naperville Half Marathon if you like.

Choose a training plan. Now that you have decided on your distance, how do you train for it? There are many online training programs available for the half marathon,10K and 5K distances. Alternatively, you can work with a running coach who can formulate a custom plan for you. Here are a few considerations for choosing a plan and training for your race:

  • Starting point: Make sure the first week of the training plan you choose is consistent with your current mileage base. Most half marathon programs assume a “beginner” runs 8-10 miles per week. Don’t choose an intermediate program if you are really a beginner. On the other hand, if you have raced the half-marathon distance before, choose a more advanced program that will give you the challenge of speed work and hill training so you can race more aggressively and better your previous time. If you are targeting the Naperville 5K and currently aren’t a runner, choose a beginner or walk-to-run 5K program. If you are already running a few miles 2-3 times per week, you can choose an intermediate or more advanced 5K training program or a 10K training program. 
  • Weekly running program: Choose a program that includes one longer run per week and at least two shorter runs per week. If you are running a beginner program, the two shorter runs will be at conversational (easy) pace. If you are running an intermediate or advanced program, expect to do some speed work and/or hill repeats as part of your shorter runs. The long run should ramp up to a maximum of around 12 miles or two hours of running (whichever is smaller) for the half marathon, 6-8 miles (depending on whether you are a beginner or advanced runner) for the 10K and a maximum of 3-6 miles (depending on whether you are a beginner or advanced runner) for the 5K. Your last long run should be approximately two weeks before your race. After you complete that last long run, your program should include a taper; a reduction in weekly mileage while maintaining the speed/intensity of the runs.
  • Race conditions: Create a plan that gives you opportunity to train on surfaces and terrain that are similar to your goal race terrain. Find out if your race is hilly or flat, asphalt or crushed gravel, hot or cold temperatures, morning or evening, and train under conditions as similar as possible to your goal race. If you can’t do all your training under race conditions, at least do your long runs that way.  For the Naperville Half Marathon, choose training routes that are slightly hilly and on asphalt. Be prepared for a variety of weather and temperature conditions since the race is in October and it could be either cold or warm (or somewhere in between) on race day.
  • Fueling and hydration: For the half marathon, you will definitely need to come up with a hydration strategy that works for you. Determine how frequently you will consume fluids and how much fluid you will consume. It is usually best to drink at the frequency at which water stops will be available on your goal racecourse. This information should be available on the race website. If you are running the Naperville Half Marathon, there are six aid stations approximately at miles 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 that will offer water and Gatorade Endurance formula. The Naperville 10K will offer water and Gatorade Endurance formula at aid stations at miles 2, 4 and 6. For the Naperville 5K, there is one aid station offering water and Gatorade Endurance formula at mile 2. You may find you perform better by ingesting some carbohydrates during your long runs. Experiment with Gatorade Endurance formula and/or other sports drinks, gels, blocks, etc. to see what works for you. Having four months before race day will give you lots of time to practice and refine your hydration and fueling strategies during your long runs. Keep in mind that if you don’t use the carbohydrate source the race provides, you will need to carry it with you or arrange for someone to give it to you on the course.

Now that you have chosen your race distance and running training program based on the above info, it’s time to put your training runs on your calendar and get going. I will be here all summer with tips and advice on overcoming obstacles and challenges that you might face along the way. Good luck with your training!

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

You Did it! Now What? Building an Off-Season Prog


You did it! Building an off-season program.

If you just ran the Naperville Half Marathon or 5K, or are soon running a different fall half marathon or other goal race, you have trained hard and tapered carefully for the race. To stay healthy and injury-free, it is equally important for you to follow a good plan for recovery on race day and in the days and weeks following your race.

Race-day and post-race activities:


  1. Get your medal(s). The Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon and 5K have fantastic finisher medals, with additional medals for multi-race distance challenges and consecutive year finishes. Make sure you get all the medals for which you are eligible.
  2. Get your Finisher photo taken. You will want the finished photo as a keepsake, so take the time to wait in line and get this photo taken, even if you feel like you are just too tired.
  3. Keep moving immediately after the race. Keep walking slowly and/or keep standing and moving, even in line for the race photo. You don’t want to sit and run the risk of cramping or tightening to the point where you can’t stand or walk.
  4. Immediately after the race (within 30-60 minutes), replenish with fluids and a small protein and carbohydrate snack once you feel that your stomach can handle it. This will give your body the tools it needs to start repairing the tissue you damaged during the race.
  5. Continue with frequent, small carb and protein mini-meals and with ample hydration throughout the remainder of race day.
  6. You may want to consider running cold water over your legs and hips or standing in a cool swimming pool later in the day. This will help limit the extensive amount of inflammation your body produces after a difficult race. [Note that you only want to do this after your race, not after every long run. Recent studies have shown that cool water treatment can interfere with the rebuilding (inflammation and recovery) that your body undergoes in response to long run training. So, after long runs,  let your body recover naturally from the run to make you stronger for the next, more difficult long run.]
  7. Consider some very light foam rolling if you are experiencing significant tightness in certain areas, but don’t be too aggressive. Your muscles and other tissues are susceptible to injury right after the race.
  8. Wearing compression clothing later in the day may help reduce inflammation and help with recovery. Compression socks (knee-high or higher) or tights are especially useful if you have to fly home from a destination race on race day or the day after.
  9. Do some very light stretching later in the day – be gentle.
  10. Consider some very light activity later in the day such as walking the dog or a casual stroll in your neighborhood. This will help keep your muscles loose.
  11. Celebrate your success. Enjoy your healthy post-race meal and savor your accomplishment with friends and family.
  12. Try not to do anything stressful during the remainder of race day. If you are on a destination race trip, save the sightseeing for the next few days and don’t be a tourist on race day.
  13. Get a good night’s sleep. You probably slept poorly the night before the race, so try to get a full night’s sleep the night after the race.

1-3 days post-race:


  1. Try 10-15 minutes of walking or jogging or another light exercise the day after the race if you aren’t feeling injured. If you feel any pain or unusual discomfort, stop right away.
  2. You may want to schedule a very light massage two to three days after the race. Make sure your massage therapist knows you are two to three days after a strenuous race and that the therapist is experienced in working with post-race clients.
  3. Continue to wear compression clothing if it makes you feel better and wear compression socks (knee-high or higher) or tights if you are flying during this time frame.
  4. Post your photos and commentary on social media. Continue to celebrate and share your accomplishments with your friends and family – you earned it.
  5. Avoid NSAIDs or other pain medication if possible – it may mask any injuries you might have and may interfere with your body’s natural healing process.

3-7 days post-race:


  1. Continue with light activity – walking and/or short bouts of easy jogging are perfect.
  2. Follow the ‘one mile per day’ rule: on any given day, don’t run more miles than days after the race. For example, 1 week after the race, do not exceed seven miles running on that day.
  3. Expect more deep fatigue than earlier in the week. The adrenaline rush of finishing the race may be wearing off now, so don’t be surprised if your soreness and/or fatigue increases during this period.
  4. Expect Post-Race Syndrome. 

The mental game – Prepare for Post-Race Syndrome

You may be surprised at how you feel mentally after your half marathon or 5K, especially if it was your first race at that distance and/or you achieved a personal record. Instead of feeling excited about your accomplishment, you may feel depressed or anxious, or you may feel like you don’t have any motivation. This is common and stems from your depleted physical state in combination with the fact that you have lost one of the major goals and sources of structure in your life (your race training plan). Here are some tips on how to break out of Post-Race Syndrome:

  1. Analyze your race result and process – this will help you determine what you need to do differently (and/or the same) in your next race.
  2. Set another goal (not necessarily a race or running goal). You need to restore the structure in your life that you have lost now that your race training is over. You may not want to do another half marathon or other race as your next major goal, but set some kind of new goal. Perhaps a shorter race or an accomplishment in another sport or hobby.
  3. View rest as part of your training plan. Remind yourself that during this month of recovery, you are following a plan – a recovery plan. This plan is every bit as important as your ramp-up of your long runs. It is critical to follow the recovery plan to avoid injury and allow your body to recover from the stresses of the race.
  4. Ease into some cross-training. Be gentle, but starting a new and different physical activity will help break up boredom and spark your interest in something new. Physically, this will also help prevent overuse injuries that might arise from more running.
  5. Continue to eat a healthy diet and hydrate to aid your physical recovery as well as your mental recovery. Strenuous racing can deplete your immune system and other body processes and a healthy diet is crucial to the repair and recovery of these systems. In addition, feeling better physically will aid with your mental recovery. 
  6. Appreciate your accomplishment. This is key – take some time to think about what you have accomplished and how special it is. You worked hard to complete your goal race and you deserve to feel great about it.

1-3 weeks post-race:


  1. Ease back into your training – this will be similar to your taper, except in reverse:
  1. Stick with easy work the first week – 25-35% or normal mileage (or less if you really pushed it during the race).
  2. Continue to follow the ‘one mile per day’ rule discussed above.
  3. 35-60% of normal mileage in week 2
  4. 60-80% of normal mileage in week 3
  5. It will take 2-3 weeks for you to achieve a full recovery.
  1. Eat a healthy die. As discussed above, your body needs high-quality fuel for the repair of tissue. This continues to be the case for a month after a strenuous race. 
  2. Hydrate. Your body continues to need adequate hydration to flush inflammation from the body and for the repair and rebuilding of tissue.

4 weeks post-race and beyond:


Now is the time to start thinking about your winter training plan. If you followed the recovery plan above, you should be back to your base running mileage – 2-4 days per week and 12-20 miles per week. If you want to get a jump start on spring racing, it is best to maintain this base mileage throughout the winter. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Limit speed work during the winter. Give your body a break from some of the stresses of race training.
  2. Continue with strength training. This will help you get stronger and avoid injury in preparation for your spring racing season.
  3. Continue with hill training. This will build strength as well. 
  4. Prepare for the elements with a plan to layer for outdoor running or by finding a good indoor track or treadmill for your winter training. 
  5. Consider maintaining a long run every 2 weeks through the winter. This will keep your endurance high so that after an early spring ramp up, you can run a spring half marathon (or late spring marathon.)

By following these tips, you will get through winter ready to ramp up for spring racing.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

Planning for Race Day


Planning for Race Day

You’ve done all the training and your fall half marathon (or 5K) is next week. That’s very exciting — and probably a bit scary. Here are some tips to get you ready to go the day and night before the big race:

Fueling and hydration. Hopefully you have been keeping track of your hydration and fueling the night before long practice runs and determining what works the best. If you haven’t, here are some general guidelines:

  • Food: Your night-before meal should be balanced. Aim for 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. You can eat slightly more than normal, but don’t go crazy. You should probably avoid fried food, red meat, dairy, nuts and other high-fiber foods for 1-2 days before the race to avoid gastric distress during the race. On race day, keep any eating light, or use Gatorade or a similar sports drink to provide pre-race fueling and hydration. 
  • Hydration: Continue to hydrate well. Your daily intake should be approximately 0.5 ounce of water per pound of body weight every day (including the liquid in food). As a rule, for race day, two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before you run, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.

Activity. Limit your activity the day before the race. Unless you are an elite runner, you probably don’t want to run at all the day before. You should also limit any other physical activity:

  • Don’t do any big house projects or lift any heavy items. If you feel like you need to do something the day before your race, go for a short walk (0.5 mile to 1 mile) and leave it at that.
  • If you go to the Race Expo the day before, try to limit the amount of walking you do there.
  • If you stretch regularly, some light stretching the day before will help you feel less stiff and sluggish.

Generally, try to relax the day before the race; watch a movie, read a book, do whatever relaxes you and will get your mind off of the race. Remember in my last article, I mentioned that the mileage taper might leave you feeling antsy, bloated, irritable and possibly achy and stiff. Make sure you move around a little bit periodically throughout the day before the race to avoid getting too stiff. 

Homework and Preparation

  • Review the course map and weather forecast. Make sure you know the course, including the locations of the water stops. Determine if you will need any extra layers or rain protection before or during the race.
  • Lay out clothing and equipment. The morning of the race you will be nervous and forgetful. Lay out everything you will need the night before (if not earlier). This includes:
  • Your race outfit. This should be the outfit (top, bottom, socks, shoes, hat/headband/ponytail holder, sunglasses, watch or smart watch, etc.) you ran long runs in, so you don’t get any unexpected chafing, blisters or discomfort. Lay out your Bodyglide or similar product if you use it. Attach your timing chip to your shoe per the instructions and pin your race number on your shirt or shorts. If you pin it to your shorts, make sure you can get the shorts on and off with the race number pinned on them. You might need to use a port-a-potty on the racecourse and you won’t want to be unpinning and re-pinning your number during the race. 
  • Cash and ID.  Always bring these when you are racing – you may need to find your own way home. Some of the larger races are very crowded at the finish and it may be difficult to find your friends and family after the race. Make a plan with your support team about exactly where you will meet after the race. You might also consider bringing your phone if you have trained for the race while carrying it.
  • Gear check bag. Consider bringing throwaway clothing layers (in case it’s cold before the race), a plastic garbage bag (you can make holes for your head and arms and wear it in case it rains or you can sit on it before the race if the ground is wet or damp), toilet paper, Bodyglide, sunscreen, masks, morning and pre-race hydration and fueling and a course map for last-minute reference. You will be able to check your gear check bag filled with any unused items at the start line before the race. Include some of those extra layers in your gear check bag for after the finish. Make sure you don’t put anything too valuable in your gear check bag.
  • Your keys. Set your car keys next to your gear bag for the morning if you are driving yourself to the race. You don’t want to be rushing around race morning looking for car keys. 
  • Set two alarm clocks. You can go to bed a bit early, but no more than an hour early. Don’t expect to get a great night’s sleep the night before. Don’t worry, you will be sufficiently rested from the nights leading up to the race. You can always take a nap on race day afternoon after you get home.

In the morning, you should be able to get up, get dressed and grab your gear bag without worrying about forgetting something. Get to the race starting line early so you have time to find parking and warm up. Finish your pre-race hydration and fueling and then relax and get ready to enjoy the race!

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

The Final 2 Weeks: What You Need to Know


The Final 2 Weeks: What You Need to Know

By now, your long runs are getting longer. Depending on your training plan, your longest training run may be 12-14 miles for the half marathon or 3-6 miles for the 5K. It’s time to start final preparations for your race. Here are some tips for these last two weeks.

First, use your final long run (or two if you have time) as a rehearsal for race day. Here’s how:

·        Meals. Dinner the night before your long run and your morning pre-run meal should be exactly what you plan to eat before your race to make sure it will not upset your stomach and/or cause unplanned bathroom visits. Make sure the meals fuel your muscles sufficiently for the long run effort with a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Use the last few long runs to experiment with quantity, type and timing of food to determine what works best for you.

·        Hydration. Similarly, your fluid intake the day before and morning of your long run should mimic your race-day hydration. As a rule, for race day (and long run practice days), two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before you run, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.

·        Fueling and hydration during the long run. During the long run, drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes. Adjust this as necessary based on your own “sweat rate.” For half marathon long runs, consider replacing half of the water with an equal amount of electrolyte drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) You can mix the water and electrolyte drink for convenience and digestibility. Here again, mimic the quantities and frequencies of fueling and hydration that you will use on race day. Pay attention to the location of the water stops in your goal race and the type and location of nutrition (sports drinks, gels, etc.) that will be provided during your race. This information should be on the race website and on the course map. Practice with the specific brands of nutrition prior to the race to make sure they agree with your stomach. The Naperville Half Marathon serves water and Gatorade Endurance Formula and will have six hydration stations approximately every two miles (they are marked on the course map.) The Half Marathon will also have Cliff Shot Energy Gels at mile 8. The Naperville 5K will serve water and Gatorade Endurance Formula at one water stop near mile 2.

·        Attire. For your long run, you should wear the outfit you plan to wear during the race: shorts/tights, tops/jog bra, socks and shoes. Also practice with hat/headband, sunglasses, smart watch, face mask and/or hydration belt/pack if you are planning to use any of these in the race. I recommend using a fairly new (but broken in) pair of shoes for the Half Marathon or 5K race. A common strategy is to wear a new pair of shoes for one or two of your shorter mid-week runs, then use them for one or two of your longest runs and then wear them for the race. This will give you shoes that are broken in but still with plenty of cushion and life. Make sure you wash any new clothing and practice with all race day clothing to ensure you know how to combat chafing and blisters with your chosen outfit. Bodyglide is a great product to combat chafing, but you will need to practice with race day clothing to determine where and in what quantity to apply the Bodyglide.

·        Terrain. Mimic terrain/running surface, elevation changes, climate/temperature and especially the time of day of the race for your long run. If you are currently running in the afternoons, now is the time to switch your long run to a race time start (7 a.m. for the Naperville Half Marathon and 7:15 a.m. for the Naperville 5K). If possible, run part or all of your long run on the actual course (traffic permitting, of course) or run it on a similar surface (primarily asphalt for the Naperville races).

·        Pacing. If you are going for a specific goal time for the Half Marathon or 5K, practice your race pace for at least the final few miles of your long run. Also, practice an even or negative split (running the second half of the long run faster than the first half.) This type of pacing will help you to maximize your performance and not burn your glycogen reserves too early in the run. If this is your first half marathon or 5K, you should not have a goal time and instead focus on finishing with an even pace.

Practicing these elements of your race during your final long run will help you to finalize the best strategies for you and reduce your race-day anxiety by ensuring you are as prepared as possible.

Other ways you should prepare leading up to race day:


  • Shift your sleep schedule to race-day wake-up time requirements over the final week before the race. That way when you wake up on race morning, your wake-up time will feel natural.
  • Try to get adequate sleep during the weeks leading up to the race. For most people this is 7-8 hours per night.

Other Exercise:

Don’t begin a new exercise program within 4-6 weeks prior to the race. Specifically, avoid starting any of the following:

  • New sports
  • New cross-training mode
  • Major, physical house project
  • Weight training (Note: If you already weight train, maintain current weights, repetitions and sets for the 4-6 weeks prior to the race. Don’t increase weights, etc. Stop weight training 5-7 days before your race.)

Stress: Try to limit significant life stresses during the weeks prior to the race. If possible, avoid job changes, household moves, significant travel and other disruptions to your normal lifestyle.

Running mileage: 

  • Follow a two-week taper for the half marathon. During the taper, even though you are decreasing mileage, maintain the intensity (speed) of your runs. The runs will just be shorter. Here’s what your two-week taper should look like:
  • Week 1: 30% mileage reduction
  • Week 2: 60% mileage reduction
  • Run little or no mileage 2-3 days prior to the race. If you feel you must run to loosen up the day before the race, don’t run more than a mile.
  • For the 5K, you can do a one-week taper, reducing your mileage for the week before the race by 40-50%, again keeping your speed the same as prior to the taper. 

Fueling and Hydration:  Prior to the race, either follow your normal diet (during which your mileage reduction will allow you to store glycogen) or a carbohydrate-loading approach (where you slowly ramp up carbohydrate consumption and decrease protein and fat consumption during the final week before the race). The carbohydrate-loading approach is probably unnecessary for the Half Marathon or 5K unless you ran into problems maintaining your energy level during your long runs. Regardless of which approach you take, follow these guidelines 2-3 days before your race:

  • Stay well hydrated throughout the week.
  • Drink water freely and often during the 24-48 hours before the event.
  • 2-3 days before the race: Eat low-fiber, low-glycemic index foods.
  • 1-2 days before the race: Consider avoiding fried foods, red meat, dairy, nuts, roughage to avoid gastric distress during the race.

How you will feel during the taper: The reduction in physical workload during the taper will take an unexpected toll on you. Your body is used to exercise and your body will react to its absence. You will likely experience symptoms such as:

  • Feeling “antsy”/hyperactive/anxious
  • Feeling bloated, fat and sluggish
  • Irritability
  • Muscle twinges, aches and tightness

If you feel any and all of this, good job. Your taper is going according to plan and you’re on track to be able to do your best on race day. More important than anything, stay relaxed. Do a bit of stretching to loosen any tight muscles. Consider scheduling a sports massage a few days before the race, but only if you have previously had this treatment earlier in your training program.

If you have followed a well-designed training plan and have prepared well, you are ready to have a successful goal race.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness

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