So, there are a lot of things that you should NEVER do on race day. I’m going to share a personal experience from my last long run AND I’m also going to talk about something too many runners make a big mistake with when it comes to stretching.
Okay, so, I was preparing to run a 16-mile morning run — training for my Green Bay Marathon this May. So, in the past, I’ve had issues with long runs because by the end I would be so wiped out. So, I bought something that is basically supposed to be “customized” drink mix based upon my body. Now, on a short run, I would have no clues if this stuff worked, so I decided to do it on a medium long run to test it out.
Come to find out, I SHOULD have tried this out on a SHORT run . . . , but I was thinking that if a failure in the drink mix occurred, it would be towards the end of the run because I would be able to tell if it kept me energized or not. Well, drank a little of it on my way to the run and just before getting out of the car (I was carrying it because wanted to have access to the stuff while I was running). But INSTEAD of energizing me, within the first 6/10 of a mile I had to use the bathroom. Not totally uncommon in an early morning run (4:30 a.m.), so I didn’t think about it. But then a mile later, I had to go again. A mile after that, had to go again, 1/2 mile after that again, and another 1/2 mile AGAIN!! Thank goodness for all-night convenience stores!!
Never really considered that this stuff would cause me to TOTALLY empty my bowels within a 6 mile route. Yeah, the run ended after the 5th stop (just glad to make it back to the car, actually). I ended up getting up early on Sunday (today) and was able to get in 10 mile before church, but I was really bummed out that I missed the opportunity for that particular long run.
POINT IS, that’s why you never, ever, never, ever drink or eat something during (or the night before or morning of) a race. NOT unless you want to take a chance with what I experienced. Just be sure to note if you’re tempted to do that, races typically only put out port-a-potties every mile or two miles. By the end, I was struggling to make it a half mile before the need to get to a bathroom hit (and hit hard). : ) Recommendation: spare yourself the embarrassment! : )
Okay, now onto the mistake that people make with stretching. I hear people talking about tight calves, tight hammies, even issues with their feet. So, what do they do? They do all kinds of stretches for that particular area. Okay, not a bad start. But do you know what a marinate (puppet) is? The type that uses strings to move the legs and arms? Well, our muscles are much the same way. When you hurt in your calves, the chances are the problem isn’t your calves. It could very well be tightness in your lower back or even as high as your neck and shoulders.
Our muscles are all interconnected and linked. Pull the string tight in your back and it will cause a relay effect down your legs, where it may show up as a tightness in your Achille’s or calves.
What am I saying? If you have extreme tightness in an area, stretch more than just that area . . . a total body stretch is what I’m talking about. Take the time to do a good stretch throughout your body at least twice a day (if you can) and chances are GREAT that the tightness in your lower legs (or wherever) will start to ease and then disappear. The more limber your muscles throughout your body, the more “play” your muscles have throughout your body. : )
Well, hope you’re having a great spring — today is the first day of spring and I ran in snow this morning (after weeks of nearly summer-like weather)!
Have an awesome run today!
Dan Van Veen
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!