How to Train for your Last Race of the Year

As the year is coming to an end, you may have already completed all of the races you had set out to accomplish this year… Or some of you may be like me and still have a few on the docket before the year’s end.

Training for a race late in the year can have its challenges especially if you’ve been training for races since the beginning of the year.

My last official road race for 2018 will be the Malibu Half Marathon taking place on Sunday November 4th in none-other than gorgeous Malibu, California. I picked this race as my last of the season for several reasons. First, I knew that I would be able to have some stunning ocean views throughout the 21.1km course. Second, it would be a nice sunny break from the usually rainy Vancouver at that time of the year. Third, I love doing destination races, they’re my absolute favourite way to get to know different parts of the world. This year is the race’s 10th anniversary so I know it will be an extra special one!

The last half marathon that I did this year dates back to the end of June in Vancouver so it’s been a while since I’ve been running longer distances. I spent a lot of my summer running trails or hiking and not so much on the road so amping up with more distance right before the end of the year can sometimes be tricky.

This year, I was faced with a few health setbacks so the last thing I want to do leading up to the race on November 4th is get injured. So I’ve been extra careful to follow a little self-imposed training plan leading up to the Malibu Half Marathon.

Here are a few key tips leading up to your last race of the year:

1) Rest Days are necessary. Your body may be tired at this time of year, especially if you spent your summer being active. Therefore, it’s that much more important to prioritize proper rest days throughout the weeks leading up to the race. I usually give myself 1 full rest day a week and sometimes opt for a 2nd day where I’ll do lower impact activities such as climbing, yoga, swimming or just going for a walk. I also try to space out my runs so that I’m not running crazy distances back to back to give my body proper time to recover.

2) Cross-training. Some runners opt not to cross-train while preparing for a race but for me, this has become super crucial in developing more strength in my legs, upper body, core and has helped me become a better/faster runner. I tend to do 1-2 spin classes a week as well as 1-2 circuit HIIT classes a week with weights, props, etc. I’ve also loved swimming and climbing as a great strength workout.

3) Yoga/Stretching. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year with my health setbacks is the importance of stretching, foam rolling and attending yoga weekly. The folks over at Myodetox in Vancouver/Toronto and soon LA (new location opening up in West Hollywood next month!) have put together great guides for stretching particularly designed for runners. You can check out some of their articles online here. I’ve also been attending at least 1 yoga session a week to help with my flexibility and recovery. I often just opt for a restorative Yin Yoga, which works wonders. I also make sure to stretch and foam roll before and after my runs (almost always!).

4) Sleep. If you want your body to recover, you need to sleep. You can’t increase your mileage every week leading up to a race and not get some good sleep. Lately, I’ve started reading a lot more before going to bed. I find it’s the most relaxing thing to do. It also pretty much ensures I pass out and don’t wake up until the next morning. If you can, turn off your phone 30-60 mins before going to bed and focus on doing other things: mindfulness, reading, relaxing, etc. I’ve been using the new “Screen Time” function on my iPhone X to help limit the time I’m on my phone, especially in the evening.

5) Nutrition. I’ve been 100% vegan for almost two years now and eating plant-based has completed changed the way I feel while training. I no longer feel nauseous at night, no longer have stomach and digestion issues and also feel like I recover a lot faster from all of my workouts. Being plant-based doesn’t work for everyone but for me it’s been monumental in my training. I make certain to take a greens blend every morning that has a lot of the nutrients that I could potentially lack (magnesium, calcium, iodine, b12, zinc, etc.) by being plant-based. I’m not certain I whole heartedly believe in too much carb loading, but hearty meals before a race and drinking lots of water a week or so before a race, are super important.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to do a little more speed and interval work but still find myself struggling with hill repeats, which is what usually kills me during races. Luckily all the hiking and trail running I’ve been doing in recent months have helped but it’s always good to plan for at least one track or hill workout a week. That said, because I’m no pro athlete and still have to spend most of my days working, getting all that stuff in can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, so at the end of the day, I just try to listen to my body and do as much as I can to be the healthiest and strongest I can be.

Excited for next weekend’s race! Maybe I’ll see you there? If not, make sure to follow along on Instagram @melsays!

Everything You Need to Know About the OTR Program

The Own the Run (OTR) program is back and better than ever. Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned vet, whether you’re planning to run your first half-marathon in 2018 or a 50k Ultra trail race, the program’s objective is to help local Vancouver runners attain their running goals.

By bringing together the city’s best health and wellness partners and practitioners, the program helps runners work on injury prevention, running efficiency and optimal performance all needed to crush this year’s running goals.

If you’ve been following my running journey these past 2 or so years, you know that I’ve unfortunately been plagued by a few injuries. At first it was my lower back, followed by a stress fracture in my right foot and my latest injury was spraining my left ankle while trail running six weeks ago. But I’m feeling more determined than ever to conquer new distances and set even bigger running goals for myself in 2018. Therefore, I’m extremely excited that an innovative program like OTR is available for runners like myself. My goal is to learn more ways on how to stay injury-free throughout the year and also push myself more than ever before.

This year’s program is a partnership between Myodetox and Vancouver Running Company, Mile 2 Marathon, MOVR plus Kokomo, who are all leaders in their respective wellness communities.

For those interested in partaking in OTR, the program is designed to begin at least 12-14 weeks prior to an upcoming race. The program includes the following:

  • Running Specific Therapy Screen (Duration 60 minutes)*
  • Individualized Exercise Program Development (Duration 60 minutes)*
  • Post Race Massage Therapy Session (Duration 45 minutes)*
  • Exercise Module developed by MOVR app
  • Training Program customized by Mile 2 Marathon (value $100-$200)
  • Full Access to M2M track workouts, and social runs at Vancouver Running Company
  • Membership to Flight Crew Premier 2018 (value $70-100)
  • Option of Nutrition consult at Kokomo
  • Exclusive Technical Running Shirt
  • Ciele Running Cap

All items indicated with an * are actually covered by extended health benefits, so a major plus.

Having access to such quality coaching and support is key to training properly and attaining the running goals that I’ve set out for myself. Furthermore, it’s incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by people who keep pushing the envelop in the health and running community. Excited to see what I can achieve this year!

For more info or to register for Own the Run program, go here.