This is the second-to-last post in our Building a Better Editor series. For the last 18 months, I’ve blogged about my efforts to get fit and lose weight. As I’ve done this project, I’ve worked towards two big goals. The first, which I hit last June, was to lose 45 pounds. The second was to get serious about running, and take part in one of the Blue Nose races. At first, I had this notion that I’d do the half-marathon. Then in March, after much delay and procrastination, I got serious about running and realized it’s so much harder than I thought. A 10+ years of carrying around 45 extra pounds has made my right knee weak and finicky. Trainer Jon Ells at GoodLife, who worked with me one on one and in team training throughout this process, encouraged me to a more realistic goal: the 10K.
Until this point, this project hasn’t really been as hard as I expected—Ells has been a great support, and I’ve hit every target I set along the way. So it was a rude surprise, a few weeks back, when I realized I really shouldn’t be doing the 10K either. I’ve been working with Team Myles and Coach Devin Sherrington, who have done a fantastic job teaching me how to run for best results, but my right knee still becomes dangerously wobbly after about 6KM. I talked with my doctor, and she’s worried that if I overtax it, there will be nasty knee surgery in my future. So, I’m signed up to do the 5K tomorrow. Do I wish I could do the 10K? Sure. Hell, I wish I could do the full marathon. And someday, I will. But tomorrow, I’m running my first organized race since Grade 6. I couldn’t run five minutes when I started this process, so the idea of running five kilometres is still pretty amazing to me.
I know I can do the distance. I’ve done it several times now, on routes that are hillier and more demanding than the Blue Nose course. The trick now, as everyone tells me, is keeping my head clear—ignoring doubts, sticking with my routine, getting rested. A day before the 5K, I’m surprised at how jittery and keyed up I am about it. I wasn’t expecting the nerves and excitement. Fortunately, I recently had the chance to speak with Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield, who gave me lots of prep advice.
One his best tips, which he says you can implement at any stage in training, is embracing foam-rolling. “There’s a place for stretching done properly but foam rollers are so good for injury prevention,” he says. “It’s easy to over do it with stretching and hurt yourself, but with foam rolling, you just roll it out. Your calf, your achilles—wherever the problem is. People often get that pain on the outside of their knee from their IT band, and if you try to stretch it out, you’ll make it worse, but you can treat it very effectively with foam rolling.”
He also helped me identify a problem in my routine. On the rationale that if some water is good, more must be better, I’ve been over-hydrating, meaning I’m in urgent need of a bathroom about midway through every run (which rather detracts from the fun). “A lot of water before a race isn’t the best idea,” he says. “You get that sloshing effect with too much water. You can actually overhydrate, and flush out electrolytes.” On his advice, I’m drinking a bit more water today, but will just stick with a normal amount pre-race tomorrow. It’s all about routine, he stresses. “Don’t overeat on that day,” he says. “You know how people will say to load up the pasta the night before? If that’s not part of your regular routine, don’t do it. For a 5K, a 40- or 50-minute run, you do not need to load up. Just eat what you normally eat.”
Finally, he urges me to enjoy the fact that it’s my first real race, but not dwell on it too much. The temptation will be to take off like I’m going for Olympic gold, he cautions. “It will feel like a big day, so stay calm and focused,” he says. “Look at the route and think about your normal pacing, and where you want to be at each stage. If you get ahead at the beginning, you may find the wheels come off at the end. Focus on consistency. You don’t need to be at 110 per cent. No one can hold up that level.”
A year and a half of getting in shape, Olympic-caliber advice and sunny weather in the forecast. I think I’m as ready as I can be. Tune in next week or follow me on Twitter to hear how it goes.
Whitfield also wants to help readers get ready for the next Blue Nose, with a chance to win a trip for two to a major Canadian marathon and spend 12-weeks personal training with him to prepare for the 2015 Halifax Blue Nose Marathon or the Mississauga Marathon. The winner will receive an all-expense paid trip for two to participate in the marathon, as well as new running gear and a chocolate milk supply. Register at RechargeWithMilk.ca to participate in the contest.