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With another Leadville 100 trail race over, the feeling of being chewed up and spit out by that extraordinary course is on the minds of many. A DNF is no fun for anyone, particularly if you trained your heart (and legs) out in hopes of reaching the finish line. If you were one of the ~53% who DNF’d at Leadville (or any ultra race this year) due to a nutrition and/or hydration issue, take a read through these few tips to take your future training and racing a notch up: It may be hard for you to think about what happened. You may not want to relive certain memories, but reflection on what went well and what went awry is super helpful for your future “nutrition direction”. If your crew kept a log or any kind of notes, be sure to review them. Some questions to include in your reflection: What did you eat and drink the day before? What did you eat and drink before and during the race? When and where were you on the course? Was there anything you consumed that was new for you or consumed in a different amount, or at a different time interval from your training? Have you raced in similar environmental conditions previously (elevation, climate, etc.)? How did you do? When did you start to feel what? In other words, did you dry heave after you consumed 3 energy gels the previous hour… or did you have several “oh my gosh, where is the nearest porta potty right now!” moments? Write down all the nitty gritty. Once you have some data collected, take some time to assess your observations and experiences. Discuss in depth with your coach or consult with a coach who is experienced in this type of racing. Perhaps you did not have adequate training time under your belt or the training was not specific enough. Or maybe you deviated from your race plan too early. Additionally, seek the guidance of an experienced Sports Dietitian who can dig deeper with you to assess the type and amount of calories you consumed, along with the role of hydration (or lack thereof) and its impact on your performance along the way. There are actually a number of factors that can influence your race day nutrition plan and how well it unfolds. There’s no time like the present to learn, particularly if you want to continue your athletic pursuits! If you decide to skip the above steps, then absolutely start fresh next season. Remember that your daily nutrition highly influences how your body needs to be fueled during training and racing. You can adapt your body to be more resilient with training, no doubt. But your nutrition is a huge player in this game we play…and it can make or break your dream day. Decide to make changes and learn what you, individually, need to thrive and keep going forward. -Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD, Board Certified Sport Dietitian email@example.com
On Saturday, I found myself huffing and puffing up the Barr Trail in the Pike’s Peak Ascent race. Pike’s was one of my goal races for the summer. I had trained my butt off, spent loads of time above 12,000 feet, tapered, visualized, and carbo-loaded, etc. (My sleep has room for improvement, but I do have a one year old and an almost 4 year old so what do you expect?!) I called on every mental strategy I know of, but I was just feeling off. I finished in 6th place about 20 minutes off my goal time. The reality is we all have "bad" races or races that don’t go as planned from time to time. Sometimes, it’s unexpected illness or life stress, other times it’s the weather, fueling issues, or a niggle that flares up during the race. Whatever the cause, it’s disappointing to fall short of a goal we’ve strived for and invested time/energy in. So, what do you do after a bad race to “get over it”? First, I think it’s ok to wallow in self-pity, disappointment/frustration for a little bit (but 24 hours at most). After this, no one wants to hear the play by play again. (My husband says so.) Get over it! The mountains/trails are still there! Racing/running doesn’t define any of us as individuals. Indulge in some ice-cream, a beer or whatever your vice may be and then move on! The next and important step is reflecting about the race itself. Even if you didn’t meet your performance expectations, · What did go well? · What can you learn from this experience? · How can you tweak your training to be better prepared for next time? I personally, don’t run well in the heat. And Pike’s was HOT! I am still nursing my baby as well so I think part of my sub-par performance was dehydration. I know I don’t run well in heat, so I need to make a conscious effort in my next training cycle to acclimate to the heat. While I am still nursing, I also need to make sure I drink enough fluids before, during and after my races/workouts. Bad races tend to increase drive/motivation for the next one. However, even when you don’t feel sore, your body needs time to repair itself. Rule of thumb is it takes approximately one day per mile raced to recover. So, if you just ran a marathon, you are looking at about 26 days of recovery. Many athletes I coach like to do a sort of a reverse taper as they recover to gradually get back to the mileage they were at. This is a great time to hike, do yoga, ride your bike or cross-train, or just get caught up on non-running pieces of your life! While you are recovering, you can start researching new goals/races. Maybe pick one you’ve never done before in a new location. This way, you won't have any of those performance expectations to compare to. Could you bring the family and make a mini-vacation out of it? It’s time to get excited! Finally, start working with your coach on a training cycle for your next race and set some goals. I find it’s rewarding to have 2-3 goals going into most races: · “A” goal—(Pie in the sky)—this is the “BIG” goal if all stars/planets align correctly. Winning races is fun, but you can’t control who shows up. You CAN control your EFFORT & ATTITUDE! So, it’s best to make this goal as SMART as possible with factors w/in your control. · “B” goal—maybe not quite as aggressive as the previously mentioned one, but one that still challenges you a bit and you’d be happy with. · “C” goal—this is a goal you can live with. Finally, remember, it’s the journey not the destination that counts! The mountains and trails will always be there. A race is just a race and sometimes despite the best laid training plans/execution we all have “off” days. I once heard a quote, “temporary setbacks are opportunities in disguise, opportunities, to improve.” Now, what’s next on your bucket list? Brandy Erholtz J
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