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!