by Sarah Bowen Shea, Founder of Another Mother Runner & Author of “Run Like a Mother”
I’m a stickler when it comes to race preparation. I follow a training plan to the letter, even if it means skipping book group to make sure I get enough shut-eye to run 90 minutes before making my kids’ lunches or squeezing out 10 more lunges after my quads have started to quake.
The physical prep manifests itself in countless other ways, too. No matter how desperately I want to jump in a hot shower, I always eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates after a long run to ensure my muscles are replenished and ready for the next workout. (Current fav: whole-grain French toast with vanilla Greek yogurt and a little maple syrup.) I hydrate well with Nuun the day before a long run and right before starting every sweat-session.
I recently started practicing a new on-the-run fueling strategy, based on advice from a sports nutritionist. Instead of waiting for mile 4 of a longer workout, I ingest a GU gel at mile 2, then at miles 4, 8, 12, 15, 18 (and, on race day, 21 and 24).
I go to bed earlier than I’d like, turning off the final installment of “Downton Abbey” before its conclusion. (It’s all good: That’s what a DVR is for—and I take Hyland’s Calms Forté to ensure I fall asleep!) I wake up five (precious) minutes early to roll on a TriggerPoint GRID, focusing on my hip flexors, hamstrings, and any other muscles that might be trying to stage a revolt.
Before speed workouts, I do a lunge matrix prescribed by my coach to wake up my glutes and to alert them they’re being called to action. I do an amazingly effective series of dynamic flexibility drills after most runs to ward off post-workout soreness and injuries.
While miles-run most seem like the most important part of priming for a race, I’ve come to realize all these nutrition/recovery/cross-training/stretching pieces play key roles as well. As you aim for your finish line, look beyond the road to prepare.