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Rest or run before race day?

Minute 1: Rest or run the day before the race

With every Pfizer and Moderna shot going into an arm, the likelihood of real in-person fall marathons and half marathons increases. As we begin to plot strategy and tactics in preparation for those races, an age old question has arisen once again: Is it better to rest completely on the eve of a race or get in a short training run? This new story explores the issue and offers some advice: “Should I Exercise the Day Before Running a Race?” Choosing to run the day before a race can help build confidence and sticking to your usual routine is a reminder of the preparation you’ve done. Your final training session is the time to feel the progress you’ve made. The article mentions the importance of keeping your muscles loose, and this can be accomplished by running at a relaxed pace for about 20 minutes the day before competition. An article from Podium Runner makes a strong case for the pre-race run in this piece: Debunking Three Popular Pre-Race Myths, noting that a pre-race warmup run will stimulate the central nervous system, enhancing race day performance. Getting even more granular, one study done in the UK looked at how pre-competition workouts for cyclists varied by time of day. The study measured the effects of a 30-minute workout the day before competition, performed at either 7am or 12pm. When a time trial was held the following morning at 7am, the cyclists who exercised at 7am the previous day finished quicker. The study offered 3 potential explanations: exercising earlier provided greater recovery time, early exposure to light influenced circadian rhythm and body temperature to better suit competition, and exercising at the same time as competition provided familiarization. #RunOrRest

Minute 2: Easy additions to make meals healthier

Restaurant visits for our family are down about 80% over the past year. That means lots of healthy home cooking, but also lots of routine. While an extra large bottle of Cholula on the counter can relieve most of our culinary boredom, we sometimes wonder if we are serving up the most nutritious meals to the adults and kids in our kitchen. Right on cue, Canadian Running just published “8 Ways Runners Can Make Their Meals Healthier.” We like their approach of taking everyday foods and upgrading them with some healthy additions. They suggest adding flaxseed to a bowl of oatmeal for a dose of omega-3s, which can help reduce inflammation according to some studies. Throw some berries into a cup of yogurt to ensure you’re getting plenty of antioxidants. Excessive exercise can be a precursor to oxidative stress, so it's important for runners to keep antioxidant rich foods in their diet. Fill your sandwich with arugula or other bitter leafy greens as a source of nitrates, which have been shown to improve running performance. While you’re at it, consider pairing your meals with a performance-oriented beer like Coors Pure, a new organic brew that is taking on Mich Ultra to become the choice of endurance athletes. Right now, the Colorado brewer has a special promotion going that will give runners a free 12-pack if you track your run and submit a screenshot of your course in the shape of a beer can. No, really. Details are here. #HealthyEating(AndDrinking)

Minute 3: Get in the zone with mindful running

When you’re miles deep into a run, hurting, nowhere near a flow state, and desperate to ignore your discomfort, you might welcome any random thought to distract from your current scene. Losing focus on your current task, however, can have a negative impact on your performance, compounding your problems. What’s the solution? Many experts say it’s mindfulness. Being present in the moment. This new piece, “How to Practice Mindfulness While Running,” lists some major improvements that can follow. Everything from making running more enjoyable, to improving performance, and even preventing injury. Mindfulness starts with the body -- turn your attention to the feeling of your feet striking the ground, or the air moving through your lungs. Immediately, you will be in a good position to make corrections in your running form and pace. Perhaps there’s a pain in your foot you’ve previously been ignoring. Being mindful can help you catch the early warning signs and determine if you’re putting yourself at risk. Turning your attention to the breath gives instant feedback on whether your effort is too high, low, or just right. Mindfulness can help escort you out of the pain locker and into the flow state. In one experiment, runners were tested before and after attending a mindfulness program, and researchers concluded that their study “showed benefits of practicing mindfulness on subjective (flow) and objective parameters (oxygen consumption) improving running performance.” #FlowingFreely

Minute 4: How strides can bring you up to speed for race day

An old school marathon training program of building an aerobic base for several weeks, then adding speed work for a few weeks and then “peaking,” is yesterday’s news according to coach Jay Johnson. He argues the best plans incorporate all of these elements simultaneously and recommends using lots of strides, explaining why you should “Do These Strides to Prepare for Your Next Marathon PR.” For years we were too embarrassed to ask our hard-core running friends how or why we should be doing strides. We wish we’d had Coach Johnson’s explanation or this video from coach Greg McMillan showing how it’s done. A stride is a type of workout in which you focus on perfect form while engaging your full range of motion and acclimating your body to higher speeds. The goal is to run for about 20 seconds per stride (about 100 meters), and you should be near your 5k race pace or even mile race pace toward the final seconds of each repetition. It’s often used as either a warmup, if you’re preparing to run at a fast pace, or a cooldown, if you’ve already done your main run for the day. If you’re worried that higher speed training early on could cause injury, Coach Johnson assures us that if done properly, strides are normally quite safe. By incorporating strides into your routine, you allow your body to adjust to the mechanics of faster movement. #StrideRight

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Coffee helps us power through the workday, but new research shows there’s more to the ancient beverage than just its role as wakey juice. A new study gave participants caffeine powder 30 minutes prior to a workout, and found that they burned up to 29% more fat during exercise, compared to a control group. The researchers suggest caffeine promotes lipolysis, the process by which the body breaks fat down to be used as energy. Other explanations include an increased ability of muscle fiber engagement, or a reduction in perceived effort required when working out. Check out “Caffeine Before Exercise Could Lead to Increased Fat Burning” from Trail Running for more details.

  • It has been an unpredictable year to say the least. If your running schedule suffered for it, you’re not alone. Lindsay Crouse documents her struggles as runner during the pandemic, where she went from setting PRs at age 35, to falling into a rut as the world shut down around her. To combat her downward momentum, Lindsay researched the science of motivation. She says that understanding the pitfalls of inactivity helped her discover “Why I Stopped Running During the Pandemic (and How I Started Again).”

  • We don't want any beef with vegan athletes, as much as they don't want any beef, period. Luckily, we've got a new story that explains the viability of muscle growth on a vegan diet. A study provided 2 groups of athletes with a protein supplement: soy-based for the vegan group and whey-based for the omnivores. The participants completed a resistance training program twice a week, and at the end of the study, both groups showed similar levels of muscle growth. Provided you’re getting a sufficient amount of protein, plant based sources might be just fine for muscle development after all. In other words, “Yes, You Can Make Muscle With Plant Protein.” Whether you are a committed vegan or just interested in eating healthier, you may want to check out: “The 17 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

When you hear the words “action hero,” Bob Odenkirk probably doesn’t come to mind. The 58-year-old actor is mostly known for comedic roles, like the morally questionable lawyer Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. When he stepped out of his comfort zone as the lead role in Nobody, he had to take on a serious training regimen in preparation. He begins his workouts with cardio, like cycling uphill for short but intense bursts. The core of his training is based around bodyweight exercise and circuits: 2 things that can be done wherever you are. He also practices screen fighting drills, somewhere between an exercise and choreography, so if you want to unlock your inner action hero, follow along with him. As you might imagine, it is a funny take on the subject, but Odenkirk also provides some practical advice for his audience.


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