Saturday, June 11, 2016

10 Things All Runners Should Do Before a Race

You've been training for weeks (maybe months) and your race is now just a few days away. Whether you're running a 5k or an ultra-marathon, chances are your stomach and mind are churning with a mix of excitement, anxiety, and anticipation.

About to run a race tomorrow morning, I know the feeling well. And based on my amateur participation in races over the past 6-ish years, here are the top 10 things runners should do before every race.

Week Before

  • Pay closer attention to your diet and H2O intake. Make sure you're fueling your body appropriately so you're getting all the nutrients you need to get across the finish line. Tips: carry a water bottle with you wherever you go (and drink water from it) and make your plates as colorful as possible.
  • Roll out each night. Do this catching up on Netflix, listening to a podcast or while your quinoa is cooking. A few minutes go a long way. 
  • Keep running and strength training, but not too much. You don't want sore legs from an epic set of squats holding you back on race day, but maintaining your plank-a-day streak is a-okay.
  • Get as much sleep as possible. Chances are you won't sleep well the night before the race, but as long as you get solid sleeps earlier in the week you should be okay.
Running gear ready for the race

Day Before
  • Make sure you know where you're going and what time the race it. This might sound obvious but it can be easy to overlook. If you can, pick up your race pack and ask questions like where to park and if there's a bag check.
  • Don't eat anything crazy. Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to pre-race meals but pretty much across the board it's best for runners not to try anything crazy or new the night before a race. Even the cleanest of Porta-Potties are not where you want to spend race morning.
  • Get ready for the morning. Walk through your pre-race routine and get as much of it out and set as possible. Clothes, breakfast, tea, race bib, keys, phone, watch, sunblock. Check the weather forecast. Write a list of everything else you need and put it where you'll be sure to see it when you're getting ready still half asleep. 
  • Trust in your training and preparation. You've worked hard for this, and you're ready for what comes. And in that off chance that training didn't go as well as you had planned because, well, life happens, then have Plan B and maybe Plan C in mind. 
Race Morning
  • Wake early and leave early. Sprinting to the start line is no way to start a race.
  • Follow your normal routine - don't try anything too different from what you know works. That's what training runs are for.
  • Get to the race location with plenty of time to do what you need to do - dynamic stretches, Porta-Potty stops, catch a satellite on your watch, get pumped up for the race.

Endurance Race Series Finish

Do all this and you'll get to the start line feeling ready for a great race. In my opinion, the most important thing is that I have fun when I'm racing, that I push myself and feel accomplished and proud at the finish. Even if a race doesn't go exactly how I'd hoped for (it happens to everyone now and then) at least I can say that I did my best on that day. 

What are your pre-race tips? * What races are on your calendar this year? * Do you race to win or race for fun? (or somewhere in the middle)

Monday, June 6, 2016

BirdCamp Colorado

As I sit on our back deck thankful for shade and a big glass of ice water on a crazy hot day, it seems like a particularly very cold and snowy weekend in April was years ago now. But, let's take a little trip back in time for this quick recap of the first Oiselle Volée running camp in Colorado, as it's long overdue.

As many of you know, I've been running for Oiselle for several years now. I first learned about the brand back in 2011 when Sarah Mac, their marketing director at the time, reached out about a giveaway (here's a good flashback) and later that year became an ambassador. The team structure has changed quite a bit as the company has grown. When I started, there were a few dozen ambassadors across the country, now there are more than 2,000 Volée members across the globe! Not to mention the Haute Volée and professional athletes on Oiselle's roster. It's been incredible to see the brand grow in such an extraordinary, inclusive way.

One thing many people don't know is that while there are so many of us running for Oiselle, wearing the singlet at races and attending meet-ups and group runs, the team in the Nest (Oiselle vernacular for headquarters) is still pretty small. So to manage the huge team, there are regions with Volée leaders organizing local events on a regular basis and this year, regional camps. I'm thankful to be one of the leaders for Colorado, along with another longtime Oiselle runner, Rebekah.

Back to BirdCamp.

In April, we hosted BirdCamp Colorado: three days and two nights of running, food, learning, bonding, food, yoga, food, and fun. (Did you catch the part about the food? Runners love their food!) April in Colorado can be gorgeous, sunny and warm, or biting blizzards. Unfortunately for us, we had the latter. But we didn't let that stop our energy or spirit. More than 20 women from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Washington gathered in Colorado Springs for the weekend.

We had great sessions led by experts in their field including a sports nutrition talk by Nuwanne Kirihennedige from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and a physio therapy discussion led by Heather North. We proved that runners can do yoga during an incredible class at Yoga Studio Satya. A Q&A session with Oiselle Haute Volée runner Shaluinn Fullove gave us insight into the life of an Olympic Marathon Trials runner, and the whole weekend started off with an ask-anything session with Kristin, JJ, and Jenn from the Nest. 

Even with the feet of snow and runs that involved being pelted with ice, I loved getting to know more of my teammates. They are all incredible, kind-hearted and goal-oriented women with inspiring stories. Sometimes we get into our routines and feel like we're just getting by or just living life, when in reality, we all have something to offer others. We all have an opportunity to inspire something in someone else. It might be your easy-going attitude, cooking skills, dedication to running 13 miles on a treadmill while others are eating eggs and bacon upstairs, kindness, ability to juggle work, kids and training, or how you give back to others by volunteering for Girls on the Run. Everyone has their own story and I felt so blessed to learn more of those stories during BirdCamp Colorado.

Photo by Rebekah (The Blonde Runs)
Haute Volée runner Shaluinn Fullove and Kristin Metcalf

That's me, JJ, Kristin, Jenn, and Rebekah

I would be an awful camp organizer if I didn't thank our partners for supporting the weekend our. Of course, there's Oiselle, without which camp wouldn't exist. But we're also immensely lucky in Colorado to have countless fitness, outdoors, and running-focused companies who are generous and willing to support groups like ours. Go check out these great companies....

Colorado Runner Magazine
Celestial Seasonings
Erica Sara Designs
Hank Orange
Hope Foods
Justin's Nut Butters
Love Grown Foods
Momentum Jewelry
Noosa Yoghurt
One World Running
Picky Bars
Run Gum
Run Steep
Tailwind Nutrition

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Trail Running: Dakota Ridge & Red Rocks Trails

Last weekend we took a road trip down to Santa Fe for a luxuriously relaxing few days that included trail running, a few bruises, window shopping, incredible food, and our fair share of margaritas. But more on that later. I need to jump back a few weeks to get a recent trail run on the interwebs.

Beginning with the Colfax Marathon Relay next weekend, I have three races coming up in a matter of five weeks. BolderBOULDER, which may be considered a new tradition for us in our 3rd year straight, will come next and culminating with the Garden of the Gods 10 Miler. As I haven't run 10 miles since my last half marathon in 2011 - when I fractured my femur and came to the hard truth that I had to drastically cut back on my mileage.

In an attempt to be ready for these races, particularly the hilly 10 miler at higher elevation, I'm incorporating some technical trail running into my training, although I'm not following any specific plan.

Dakota Ridge Trail

A few weeks ago we took on Dakota Ridge Trail and Red Rocks Trail which is about a 20 minute drive from Denver and right near Red Rocks Amphitheater. We parked in the dinosaur lot across the road from the main Matthews Winter Park lot (pictured in the bottom right of the photo above). Right out of the gate we were climbing and it didn't take long for my heart to start pounding.

Dakota Ridge Trail

Dakota Ridge Trail

While we've hiked more difficult trails, this was the most technical we've run - at least the Dakota Ridge section. The terrain changed quite a bit throughout the 6 miles but there were plenty of steep rocky climbs and descents; long slow climbs; creeks to pass; rolling hills, and a lot of beautiful views.

Climbing Red Rocks Trail

We went early and on a morning that was overcast, as you can see from the photos. I believe this is key because while a clear blue sky would make for stunning views, the vast majority of the trail is exposed with little, to no, shade so I'm sure it can get very toasty.

Two days after this run my shins and ankles were still a bit sore. Definitely important to stretch and roll after this run. And eat well to help your muscles recover. My ankles aren't used to working so hard! Clearly I need to spend more time on the trails but I can already tell that the time we have spent recently has helped my running.

Red Rocks Trail

If you go:
  • Go early to avoid the heat and crowds
  • Carry a little water
  • Wear sunblock and consider a cap
  • Park in the small lot across from the Matthews Winter Park lot (less crowded, I'd say)
  • If you haven't been to Red Rocks, take a drive up to the amphitheater when you've finished, it's usually open in the morning and a national treasure (IMHO)
  • Find our 6 mile loop on MapMyRun
Do you incorporate trails into your running? * What races do you have coming up?